In qualitative settings we let the prospects tell their stories about their product experiences, how they live their lives or run their business, ask them to develop collages to express their feelings about product categories and brands and also use laddering techniques to ensure that we understand how tangible features and benefits link together.
In quantitative research we explore the occurrence of problems they experience with existing products and services, how valuable it would be to find a solution to those problems, and which brands or companies have the credibility to develop the necessary solutions.
It is not unusual to uncover hundreds of needs through this type of research which then need to be distilled and organized into common groups in order to begin making some determination of potential solutions and whether or not those solutions fit within the client company’s core competency, business strategy, brand portfolio and profitability requirements.
In the end, the company that solves the biggest need achieves the greatest ROI. So we work with cross-functional business and communications teams through ideation sessions and feasibility assessments to identify possible solutions which are most effective in closing the customer needs gap. Once the needs are reduced to a manageable number it is not unusual for product development or agency teams to begin exploring new product and communications concepts and/or begin sizing the market or move directly into market segmentation to begin identifying the optimum targets for new products and communications.
Philip Kotler described marketing in its simplest form as “understanding customers’ needs and wants and developing products and services to satisfy those need.” So why do 95% of all new product introductions fail? We think it is because most new products are launched in search of a customer rather than finding a customer in search of a solution to a need.
Unfortunately most consumers or B2B buyers cannot articulate their needs very well. That’s why we employ a full range of qualitative and quantitative techniques designed to elicit the target customers’ aspirations, problems, self-perceptions, social values, beliefs and so forth to understand both their tangible and emotional needs and help translate these into product opportunities.