August 9, 2018

Launching a New Product: What Market Research to Consider

launching a new product
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Tyler Cusmina

Author
Senior Market Research Manager, TL Health

Launching a new product can be an exciting, yet a daunting experience for companies. There is the excitement around seeing your ideas come into fruition, but also the nervousness to see how your product will perform in the real world.  After all, you only get one opportunity to launch your product.

With the right research, you can feel comfortable that your brand is on the right path to a successful launch. But how do you decide, out of the countless options available, which types to use and when?

Fear not! We have created a helpful guide that suggests some of the research you should be considering when launching a new product.

Overview 

There are two types of research: secondary and primary market research.

Secondary research, or desk research, is your least expensive research and the quickest information for you to collect.  Think of the internet as your main source where you can research all kinds of information ranging from financial reports to scholarly articles.  

Primary research, on the other hand, is more expensive than secondary research and is research you conduct yourself either through interviews, focus groups or surveys. There are two kinds of primary market research: qualitative and quantitative market research.

When thinking of qualitative research, think person-to person or small group discussions. There are two reasons to use this methodology:

  1. We don’t know a lot about the market and we have lots of questions
  2. We are trying to understand the “why” behind certain behaviors

When considering quantitative research, think larger samples of the population than qualitative research, typically done online.  Quantitative research uses statistical techniques to validate its findings. You will want to use quantitative research when:

  1. You are trying to quantify the findings from the qualitative research
  2. You want to make a business decision
  3. You want to understand the relationship and drivers of behavior using statistical methods

Let’s take a closer look at these different options and when you might consider using them.

Secondary Research 

Before you begin talking to your customers, it is a good idea to do some initial research on your marketplace. You will want to find out some basic background information such as:

  • Market size
  • Market growth
  • Who is the competition

This phase of the pre-launch process gives you an understanding of the market value and who will be your competition. 

Secondary research can be collected from a wide array of sources such as scholarly articles, journal publications, conferences and internet searches. The easiest way is through the internet and it’s free! 

The amount and extent of the research you choose to do is up to you; but before moving on to any type of qualitative or quantitative research, you want to make sure you are confident that you have a basic understanding of your market. 

Secondary research will establish:

  • The potential revenue that can be made within the market
  • How much you may need to spend in order to capture market share
  • How easy it will be to enter the market

Overall, doing initial background research is an important first step in the research process as it helps you prepare for later forms of research.

Qualitative Research 

After you have done your initial background research, you will now want to start doing some exploratory research with your customers. Qualitative research is usually done when you are trying to flush out what all the issues or opportunities may be around launching a new product.  For example, you may want to ask your target audience why they use a certain brand over another.  Is it due to efficacy?  Insurance coverage? Side effect profile?  Think small samples of the population, usually no more than 30 customers.  

Qualitative research is used when:

  • Your trying to get an understanding of attitudes, preferences and opinions
  • You are trying to understand the “why” behind certain behaviors
  • You want to pressure test some initial ideas/concepts

There are two main types of qualitative research: in-depth interviews and focus groups.

In-Depth Interviews

In-depth Interviews (IDIs) are conducted one-on-one between a moderator and a respondent. These interviews typically last about 45 minutes to an hour in length and are conducted either over the phone or in-person. IDIs provide a great opportunity to get individual opinions on various topics without the potential of group think, which is when members of a group tend to all agree on one answer for fear of deviating from the group. IDIs help establish preliminary hypotheses about current assumptions, new product ideas and market attitudes.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are similar to IDIs except instead of just talking to one person at a time, a moderator will talk to a group of people. Focus groups are usually about six to eight people in size and are often held in-person. A moderator proposes questions to the group and group members are then asked to provide their feedback. It is the moderator’s job to make sure all group members get a chance to express their opinions freely and that the group stays on topic. Focus groups are typically used when issues are a bit more complex and when feedback from other group members can be used to challenge some assumptions and help trigger new ideas. Focus groups are a great way to bring out several ideas and opinions as group members can use each other to help generate discussion. 

So qualitative research is talking to the end customer and finding out why you are seeing certain behaviors in a market, what the current practices are, what they like, what they don’t like, what do they think is the opportunity and what are all the potential issues within this market.  Quantitative research will then tell you which issues or opportunities will have the greatest impact to the most customers.

Quantitative Research

Once you have completed your initial exploratory research, it is time to pressure test the findings to a larger audience. This type of research is necessary because the findings can be validated with statistical rigor, giving you confidence that what you see in the research will be duplicated in the general population of customers/patients.  

Quantitative research is used when:

  • You want to confirm your conclusions/hypotheses from the qualitative research
  • You want to make a business decision
  • You want to understand the relationship and drivers of behavior
  • You want a better understanding of market dynamics

This is an important step in the pre-launch process because although the initial exploratory research provided some great early insights and feedback, you want to determine which findings are most important to the overall population. 

There are several types of quantitative research and statistical analyses you can utilize. Below are some of the types you will want to consider when getting ready to launch a product. 

Awareness, Trial and Utilization Research (ATU)

The ATU is the bread and butter of your quantitative research and is typically run both pre and post launch.  It is the bread and butter because it tracks a product throughout its life cycle. It identifies the products your customers are aware of, how many have they tried and what their current level of utilization is. This gives you good insight as to what is driving demand. The ATU helps you understand the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats within the market and gives you clear direction on what it takes to become number one. 

Positioning Research

Another type of quantitative research that is critical to the success of your product is positioning research. Positioning research establishes what space you will own in the minds of your customer when it comes to key attributes like efficacy, side effects and safety and how hard you will or won’t have to work to capture market share.  Positioning research also leads to your marketing messages and concepts. It helps you establish points of differentiation within your market, so you may own a specific spot within the mind of your customer.

Statistical Analysis

Finally, one of the biggest advantages to quantitative research is the ability to run statistical tests to provide greater confidence that your research findings would be representative of the population.  

There are numerous types of statistical analysis that can help you answer questions like:

  • Is this sample representative of the population?
  • Is the difference between two groups true for the entire population?
  • Is there a correlation between two variables?
  • What type of impact will certain variables have on my sales?
  • Do certain customers within my population share certain characteristics and can they be grouped?
  • Which combination of features will produce the greatest market return?

Quantitative research is critical to provide you with the assurance and information you need to successfully launch your product. Its ability to be distributed to many individuals and its backing by statistical rigor make it the final piece to your research plan.

Summary

There can be a lot of uncertainty around launching a new product, but with the right research, you can hopefully approach the launch of your product with confidence. This article outlines just a few of the key types of research you should consider when launching a product. 

Before you begin any endeavor that is worthwhile, you should always conduct initial background research. This will help you get a better understanding of your market and its competitors and aid you in the creation of your initial qualitative discussion guides for your primary research.

Once you have completed your secondary research, it is critical to get initial views on the current knowledge, attitudes and practices of your target audience along with pressure testing your ideas via exploratory, qualitative research.  Conducting in-depth interviews with your target audience will provide the feedback you need to design your quantitative research that will be distributed to the larger population.

Bringing it all home, quantitative research assures you that your hypotheses from your qualitative research findings are confirmed and gives you the confidence you need to successfully launch your product. It provides results that can be backed by statistical rigor and increases your confidence that your results are representative of the population.

By initializing these steps, you will be putting yourself on the right track to successfully launching a new product!

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Tyler Cusmina

Tyler has seven years of pharmaceutical experience working in Market Research and Pharmaceutical Sales. Tyler holds a BA in Marketing from the Temple University Fox School of Business and a Certificate of Proficiency in Quantitative Analysis Field Of Study Data Analysis from the Burke Institute.

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