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Recipe for Success: Budgeting limited research dollars on innovation. Illustration by TEAMS

Recipe for Success: Budgeting Limited Research Dollars on Innovation

Why bother spending all the money and time developing an idea that won’t inspire brand love and good sales?

Research is one of the most important steps in product or service development, however, it is often overlooked. Through design research, a company may frame the initial problem, uncover any risks ahead of time, and learn what you don’t know as early as possible in the development process. It’s a waste of time and money to develop an idea that won’t inspire brand love and good sales, after all.

First, segmentation research

The first important step, framing the initial problem, is a segmentation research study of the consumer pool for a product or service. This research is an important tool for any company to understand who their audience is and who they may wish to target. We find many companies developing something truly new, don’t know who their target is or are targeting a market that is not viable for them. Without segmentation, it’s merely a guess at who the target audience might be.

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Segmentation of the consumer pool. Illustration by TEAMS

Qualitative research

Next, it’s ideal to do some qualitative research. This often involves one-on-one or job follow type interviews with people that fit within the target segments. The interviews uncover what motivates purchases decisions, workarounds have been created, and the emotions evoked by the experience of using the product or service.

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One-on-one interviews. Illustration by TEAMS

We see what people do, rather than what they say they do — we get to hear their aspirations. Early concept sketches or preconceived notions may be tested at this time. This is important because qualitative often reveals what we don’t know about the market. It feeds into the questions that may need to be asked in a quantitative survey.

Quantitative research

The next step of research is quantitative research (statistically significant) which in some cases, may not be needed. This involves tools such as online surveys or feature testing research. However, while quantitative preference research is helpful for convincing a board or leadership team to invest, it is less crucial to the development process. The earlier qualitative testing is good at showing trends. If it’s not clear what features might be favored, quantitative feature testing may be very valuable. Unlike earlier stages of research that give you the problem, or the type of consumer, quantitative research is best for painting an accurate picture of consumers’ opinions now, rather than in the future. It’s also very easily biased if the survey isn’t asking the right questions or is targeting the wrong people.

In conclusion, when running a development project on a limited budget, framing the problem that is being solved is one of the most important keys to the success that will translate into sales dollars. While not glamorous, doing the homework of segmentation is the foundation for the rest of the development. Conducting job following and one-on-one interviews may uncover any risks ahead of time and help learn what you don’t know as early as possible in the development process.

This article was Written by Marianne Grisdale, Vice President and Creative Director at TEAMS Design Chicago.

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TEAMS is one of the world’s leading design agencies. TEAMS is not just a name — it’s our attitude!

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