My recent post listed 11 resources every product manager should become well acquainted with. This post will delve deeper into the first item on this important list – market research.
Market Research and the Product Manager
In all likelihood, your company has requested market research – an organized effort to collect information about customers or markets that will help the company minimize risk. Research is often also used by organizations to explore new business opportunities, get to the bottom of a problem the business is facing, or gather additional information prior to making an important business decision.
Typically, an outside team will conduct research with an appointed sponsor assigned to help the research time define the scope of the project, collect information, analyze findings and interpret results.
Sometime during your career in product management, you will likely be called upon to commission research yourself. Some of the typical areas covered by market research include:
- Market information – the market’s size, its segmentation, or current trends
- Market structure – identify the key players and their market share, brand market share, or the market’s distribution structure
- Buyer’s perceptions – an assessment of the buyer’s needs or of the buyer’s perceptions of various brands and suppliers
- Product – an analysis of the available products usage patterns, differentiation, segments served, or satisfaction levels
- New product development – identifying unsatisfied needs or product acceptance level
- Pricing – uncovering price sensitivity, trends, or to map existing pricing structures
If you think about information you’ve seen in the business plan, which you’ve hopefully had the opportunity to study, you’ll likely see elements of the market research reflected in its declarations.
How Product Managers Get Their Hands on the Market Research
The best sources for gathering the past and/or current market research is probably your CEO or your colleagues in the marketing department. The individual may well have sourced some of the research for your company. Ask these people whether there’s been research done in support of the business plan as well as what’s been gathered since the business plan was completed.
Customer Satisfaction Surveys – a Product Manager’s Goldmine
Check also with the marketing department about getting your hands on any customer satisfaction surveys the company may have conducted. Once a significant customer base is established, most companies begin monitoring customer satisfaction. Typically, these surveys dig deeper than just asking how satisfied the customer is with the company. They also set out to determine what about your products does the customer find most appealing and valuable. The information you gain from these customer surveys can be invaluable as your company mores forward in pursuit of growth.
Be sure to catch my next post where I’ll explore the vital information product managers can gain by obtaining and studying the customer list.