Innovation Unwound: 

Not Just Research, The Right Research

Market research to assess opportunities, identify and quantify markets and segments, how and where items are purchased etc. help focus product design, determine price points, set promotional strategies and much more. But alone they produce nothing to commercialize.

Bridging the gap to winning product ideas typically springs from interaction with users through interviews, observations, groups, in combination or singularly. But, oft times the “R” budget in new product R&D is skewed towards Market Research. “Insights” would be shared with design and engineering with a disproportionate (or entire) research budget used up without insights to be gained by eyes-on/hands-on research directly with users.

Failing to engage potential users early in the process pushes a designer’s perspective and an engineer’s focus on functionality and manufacturability to later in the development cycle. Opportunities for innovation may be missed, intractable manufacturing problems can erupt and product ideas that look good on paper may find a lackluster market response.

Solution: As you develop or review product development plans look closely for a balance between profiling the market and direct interactions with users in your priority segment(s).  Arm’s length analysis of market data may seem to confirm pre-conceived product ideas but can lead to pursuing less than optimum directions. Given the costs associated with innovation, R&D, and commercialization, investment in the right mix of research increases the likelihood of success and can be a welcome hedge against a costly failure.

A well-considered research approach utilizing freshly-mined data and the perspective and interpretive capabilities of ethnographic researchers, designers and engineers will more likely unearth potential innovation opportunities that address needs of the users in your well-profiled segments.

Phil Hallstedt
Director, Business Development & Healthcare

Phil can be reached at