Online qualitative research provides a whole host of benefits to researchers and marketing managers alike. One of the key business areas in which it is most beneficial is product testing. Whether you are an entrepreneur developing a brand new innovation or an experienced brand manager trialling a brand extension – online product tests provide great depth to complement key decisions.
There is no set standard for how to conduct online product tests which can be confusing. That is why we have broken down four of the easiest and most effective ways to integrate online qualitative research into product testing phases.
1. Generating New Ideas
The first, and perhaps most obvious, use of online research is to aid in generating new ideas. Two of our tools in particular are useful at this stage of the product development lifecycle. These are: Smartboard MR and Brainstorm MR.
The Smartboard MR tool invites participants to provide feedback on a particular product concept or idea. Upload a picture of the product and allow participants to tag the product with relevant comments on features that they particularly like or dislike. Unique to this tool are embedded discussions which allow participants to start conversations within comments and build upon ideas. Sentiment tagging also shows moderators which aspects of the product were viewed more favourably in a concise and visual heatmap.
The Brainstorm MR tool is similar to an online suggestion box, which provides participants the opportunity to generate feedback on ideas and concepts. Phased ideation, categorisation and a rating system mean that researchers can quickly and easily view the most popular ideas, for quick integration into the design process.
2. Prototyping with Online Diaries
Once feedback has been provided on initial ideas, the next stage of the product design process is to create a prototype. Again, it is possible to take advantage of online qualitative research to improve the prototyping process. By integrating an online diary task into the prototyping process, participants can provide instant feedback on their experience and interactions with the product.
Online diary studies reduce the time between the interaction and the reporting, ensuring that the underlying emotion is gathered with the data and improving the quality of the research and feedback. To ensure you receive the most relevant feedback, invite participants to submit journal entries immediately as well as open-ended diary tasks that give participants more freedom and creativity in their product usage.
3. Understanding Customer Interaction
After a prototype has been created and initial feedback generated, the next stage of the product development cycle is to understand customer perceptions of the product and how they will interact with it. This is an important factor as it will influence future marketing activities in addition to retail channel selection, customer targeting and positioning.
The group nature of our Live Chat MR tool ensures that participants not only interact with the product, but also form conversations around it in a discursive manner. This means that researchers are able to not only understand initial perceptions of the product, but how it is viewed in a social environment. Such a microcosm is crucial to create an effective marketing strategy that is coherent with how consumers interact not only with the product but also each other.
To make the most of a live chat focus group session, we would also recommend running a Report Card MR pre-task. Report cards are a great way to ask about the product category and introduce the product concept without revealing what the product is. By adding this step you are able to compare consumer thoughts prior to and after product interaction. In this way it is possible to measure how expectations match up to reality and understand whether your product truly delivers what it promises.
4. Refining the Proposition
Finally, the last stage of the product development cycle that online qualitative research can be integrated into is researching the marketing and branding proposition. Once the core features of the product have been established, researchers must consider how to market these in a way which will be appealing to consumers.
Considerations at this stage of the product development process include position, placement and price. To ensure that these aspects are correct, we would recommend running a questionboard focus group. Our Question Board MR tool gives participants the ability to interact in a similar manner to a live chat focus group but over a longer period of time. This extended time period gives participants more time to think and reflect on their ideas and provide the best possible feedback.
Online qualitative research can be integrated into all stages of the product development process and used to help test ideas and designs at every stage. From the initial idea generation to the final refinement of branded propositions, online qual is a great way to complement core business needs.
We think online qualitative methods extend far beyond the ones listed here and provide much more far reaching benefits to the product development and testing process. Let us know in the comments below how you have successfully used online market research in product testing or what innovations you would like to see in the future.
Read more about our dedicated online research bundles. Or, to book a free trial of the FlexMR research platform and make use of our wide range of quant & qual tools, click here.