Want to Hit a New Product Home Run? Avoid These 5 Product Development Research Misses
What’s one thing all successful new products have in common? They fulfill a true customer need in a new and meaningful way. Sounds simple, but it’s not. While there is no single path to a breakthrough, conducting strategic new product research across the development process increases the probability of success. Here are five common missteps to avoid as you make your way along the new product development journey.
New Product Development Research Don’ts
1. Don’t get too attached to a new product idea before your customers do.
It’s not unusual for a new product idea to be generated within an organization with little to no input from customers. When that’s the case, stakeholders can sometimes get personally attached to the idea, even before it’s been vetted by customers. That’s understandable, but it can be detrimental to the overall process. It makes it harder to hear customers’ criticisms and can lead to a confrontational “us vs. them” dynamic. The danger is when a stakeholder starts to believe they “know better” and becomes skeptical of customers’ feedback. If that happens, your team might miss uncovering a rare insight into the essence of your customers’ needs. That’s the space where game-changing innovation happens.
2. Don’t underestimate the power of qualitative feedback.
New products research typically makes good use of quantitative ratings and rankings. These tools are a quick way to identify which concepts rise to the top in terms of customer interest and need fulfillment. However, if new product development was as simple as a report card, it wouldn’t be so hard to come up with successful new ideas. Instead, make it your goal to understand exactly why consumers gravitate toward one idea and not another. You can learn as much, if not more, from feedback on the concepts they don’t like. Their explanations will help you zero in on an unmet need just waiting to be filled.
3. Don’t test your new product ideas in a vacuum.
It’s not uncommon for new product development research to exclude competitive products when gathering customer feedback. But that’s not how customers make real-world purchase decisions. Don’t wait too long before including competitive options as well as products in your own brand portfolio into the mix, when evaluating new concepts. Doing so can help you optimize your product features and benefits, pricing strategies, and launch communications. It will also help ensure your new offering is truly differentiated from the competition and minimize potential brand cannibalization effects.
4. Don’t treat new product messaging research as an add-on.
No matter how innovative and desirable your next new product is, if the marketing communications fall short, your customers won’t know what they’re missing. That includes everything from compelling features and benefits, attention-grabbing packaging, relevant promotional materials, and break-through advertising, not to mention the all-important new product name. Gathering customer feedback to optimize new product communications should be a core objective at every phase of new product research, not just at the end of the process.
5. Don’t overlook conducting post-launch research.
Conducting post-launch research can help you pinpoint new product success factors and uncover improvement opportunities. Do you already track brand and advertising awareness? Does your organization regularly monitor your customers’ experiences, loyalty, or other key CX metrics? Be sure to include your new products into research initiatives like these. By benchmarking new product performance metrics, you not only learn from your own best practices, you’ll be able to identify potential barriers to success before they lead to failures.
The underlying goal of any new product research should always be to uncover the essential customer needs your brand fulfills. This may sound painfully obvious, but it’s surprising how easy it can be overlooked. Brand marketers who truly understand what problems their products and services solve have the highest likelihood of a new product home run.
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