Market Research is Product Management

Gregg Archibald and Leonard Murphy, Partners at Gen2 Advisors and GreenBook, share what product managers need to know about market research, how product managers and researchers can collaborate more effectively, and how technology is reshaping the field.

The most successful and fastest-growing companies today strive to gain a deep understanding of their customers and build products that meet their needs. Market research plays a critical role in this by providing insights on marketplace dynamics and identifying opportunities for growth.

However, traditional market research methodologies are very different than the methodologies that product managers deploy to help them make decisions. All too often, a lack of mutual understanding stands in the way of effective collaboration between researchers and product managers.

I was thrilled to feature Gregg and Lenny to shed light on market research best practices and how product managers can collaborate to build better products. They’ve worked and consulted for numerous Fortune 500 brands, and they run GreenBook, the leading publication in the market research industry.

Gregg buckets market research studies into two categories: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative studies help you discover needs and opportunities. Quantitative studies help you measure them. New technologies are now helping companies conduct qualitative research at the scale of quantitative research, and gain user insights faster than ever before. And as agile development becomes more prevalent, it’s critical for product teams to have the ability to make decisions quickly. Gregg elaborates on this new dynamic:

The speed of decisions is increasing within business all the time. We're getting a number of clients calling us and saying, 'Our market research department used to be world class and now we find that our product people or our brand people are going that get that information closer to the end user.' So, market research has to be a part of getting information closer to the end user in a more iterative and faster way."

He then describes how market research and product management typically contribute towards a healthy product development process:

If I think about the role of marketing research within the product development process, it's typically around a few areas, and that's helping identify the key white space opportunities...identifying the target market that is aligned to the white space opportunities, and identifying the key unmet needs that will help drive the product development. Finally once there are some good strong concepts, looking at what it takes to optimize this from the three, or four, or five most important benefits and features, and what is the forecasted opportunity of this final product. Those are kind of the steps where market research and product development teams work most closely."

Lenny describes why it's important for product managers to do take part in research that helps them better understand their users:

Product [managers] need to be close to the consumers, that's ultimately what their job is - to give the consumers what they will buy. So, anything that helps that process I think is inherently a good thing. Now, systemically it doesn't fit necessarily in a way of lot of organizations have been structured in the past, but in an agile nimble type of organizational structure that's increasingly being adopted then that ability to create tools that give the power to product managers directly is primarily a good thing. It's different, it has its dangers, but anything that gets folks closer to the consumer experience so they can deliver a better product or a better solution for the consumer is ultimately a win win for all engaged."

While market research can provide "a big picture overview of what's happening in the marketplace," as Gregg says, which is critically important for identifying opportunities, he also acknowledges the areas where product managers may need to do their own research:

It's hard to get consumers to articulate it in a way that the market research team can provide feedback to the product development team. When people are shown a choice between 'option a' and 'option b,' then it becomes a lot easier to get that feedback, but that feedback has to be in a very timely manner to keep up with the product development process."

Gregg and Lenny also give us a peek into the future of market research. They discuss how new technologies, such artificial intelligence, and internet of things devices can help with unconscious measurement, geo-local studies, and data synthesis.

You’ll learn a lot from this episode about research, collaboration, and emerging technology.

Here are the highlights:

  • How market research helps companies identify growth opportunities (4:57)
  • The most effective market research methodologies (7:01)
  • How technology is reshaping the field of market research (10:16)
  • How product managers and market researchers can collaborate effectively (13:51)
  • The market research concepts that product managers need to know (17:58)
  • Emerging data sources that can help product managers make better decisions (23:18)

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