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Product Development Research 101

Customers appreciate when brands get them, and as product managers, we’re constantly trying to understand the wishes of our customers. It’s a mutual need for understanding, and it’s crucial if we want to ultimately launch a successful product. 

So what is the best way to gain these precious customer insights that guide us in developing the right products and improving them?

The key is methodical product development research, an important process for every project manager worth their salt. 

Here’s a quick rundown of what this guide will cover:

  • The Essentials: A breakdown of what exactly encompasses product development research.
  • The Why Factor: Why it’s so important to you and your product to engage in R&D.
  • Variety Pack: An overview of different types of research at your disposal.
  • Implementation Guide: Straightforward steps to nail down effective research practices.

What Is Product Development Research?

Product development research is essentially your fact-finding mission, laying the groundwork for what you’ll create or refine next. 

This procedure taps into a mix of data-gathering and scrutiny methods like concept testing, loyalty assessment, and user research

The goal here is to remove any ‘gut feeling’ strategies in favor of hard evidence and to use that information every step of the way going forward. From initial idea generation to product launch.

So, when we say research, we’re talking about deploying structured investigations that transform ambiguities into clear, strategic directions for your product lifecycle.

Why Is Product Development Research Important?

Do you think skipping research in product development is a time-saver? Think again. Having in-depth analytical knowledge at your disposal is going to help your business a lot more in the long run. 

Here’s why product R & D is one of the most important steps in the product development strategy:

  • Risk Reduction: Unforeseen complications are unwelcome. Conducting thorough early-stage research acts as a safeguard against product failure and poor investment outcomes.
  • User Alignment: Assumptions about user needs must be substantiated through rigorous research to ensure your product genuinely meets market expectations.
  • Innovation Trigger: Discoveries that lead to breakthrough products usually arise from detailed analysis of customer frustrations and unmet needs. A deep dive into the data can yield valuable insights positioning you ahead of emerging trends.
  • Resource Optimization: Efficient allocation of funds hinges not on making guesses but on investing in areas proven by evidence to deliver high financial returns and satisfy user requirements effectively.

7 Types of Product Development Research

Product development research isn’t exactly a walk in the park. It’s crucial to get a grip on how your product fits into the market and what its lifespan might look like. 

Let’s break down the essential types you’ve got to get your head around:

1. Market Research

Ready for some reconnaissance? It’s time to gather intel on the buying habits within your target market and grasp what drives their decisions. 

Here, we’re talking about data: demographics, purchasing patterns, and emerging trends. Using this data is to ensure you’re not walking in blind when launching a product. 

Consider it old-school detective work minus the fedora.

2. User Research

Market research gives you a broad picture of your data, whereas user research gives you more refined and in-depth insight. 

This stage focuses on understanding users intimately through their experiences and feedback rather than solely relying on quantitative data.

With interviews, user surveys, focus groups, and sometimes even going undercover, prepare to meet the real MVPs, the users who’ll interact with your products daily.

3. Competitive Analysis

Keep your friends close and your competitors closer, right? 

Engage in a thorough competitive analysis to get the lay of the land. By examining your competition’s strengths and weaknesses, you’re equipping yourself with insights necessary for informed product strategy development. 

Dive into their features, pricing strategies, and customer feedback to inform how you might improve your own offerings. In the end, your R&D efforts will thank you.

4. Concept Testing

Once you have developed new product ideas, the next stage involves putting them through their paces with concept testing before going all-in on development. 

This crucial step involves presenting early-stage designs or more fleshed-out models to a slice of your intended market, i.e. real people. 

Their reactions are incredibly useful for steering your product design in a direction that resonates before sinking too many resources into development paths that may lead nowhere exciting – or, worse still, straight off a cliff.

5. Usability Testing

Once you’ve created a prototype that is more than just an idea on paper, it’s time for usability testing. 

Watch people actually use your product and gauge their reactions. They’ll stumble, they’ll get frustrated, and they might struggle, but all of this is incredibly valuable feedback that allows you to find any issues that were previously not so obvious. 

At the end of this stage, you’ll be able to identify any shortfalls, and ultimately fix up the experience for your users.

6. Pricing Research

With pricing, it’s more of a game plan than just digits on a tag. Through pricing research, you dive into the nuances of how much your demographic is willing to pay before they walk away entirely.

This stage also involves examining competitors’ pricing strategies and analyzing price sensitivity data, and this requires sharp attention to detail. You’re gathering intelligence from multiple channels to determine the optimal intersection of customer appeal and revenue potential.

With this knowledge, you can move beyond guesswork in your pricing strategy, optimizing for both customer satisfaction and profitability.

How to Do Product Development Research?

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Forget ticking boxes for the sake of it, we’re talking about product development research that moves the needle. 

Here’s your playbook for uncovering valuable insights that will help shape the future of your product:

1. Define Objectives

Before diving into a research initiative, clarity on your end goal is crucial. Know where you’re headed before you hit ‘go’. You should be asking yourself:

What crucial decisions hinge on this data?

What are the strategic goals?

Identify whether you’re exploring new opportunities, enhancing existing products, or evaluating market fit. Establish these goals upfront to ensure that each step taken is deliberate and contributes toward product development success.

2. Choose the Right Type(s) of Research

What are you trying to figure out? 

Determine your objectives first and foremost. Ensure that you select a research methodology aligned with what you need to uncover.

For broad market understanding, dive into market analysis and competitive reviews directly related to wider industry dynamics.

Should enhancing user experience be your priority, prioritize collecting data through usability studies and user testing sessions as they’re invaluable.

Occasionally, integrating qualitative feedback from users with quantitative pricing data is effective. This approach offers comprehensive insights that might otherwise remain unnoticed in independent analyses.

3. Plan Your Approach

Don’t just wander into the research wilderness, map it out first. Who are you talking with? Pin down your audience, be it loyal users, those elusive potential customers, or users who’ve bailed on your product. 

Then choose your approach: Feedback surveys, interviews, focused group chats, or a day in the life of someone using what you’ve built (that’s observational studies for the uninitiated). 

When you have obtained this information, don’t just leave it sitting on a database. Specify your metrics and establish a method to benchmark and analyze the data effectively.

4. Collect Data

Armed with a blueprint of how this should unfold, prepare to gather essential data. 

Deploy surveys and conduct interviews with participants to secure user insights and utilize analytics tools for tracking user engagement on apps and websites, capturing valuable usage patterns discreetly.

If you’re near the stage of product launch, consider beta tester feedback. The impact of these users is crucial as you refine your product before a full-scale launch.

5. Develop User Feedback Inquiries

When it comes to user feedback, effective research hinges on the quality of your questions. 

As you prepare surveys or interviews, develop queries that cut through vagueness and yield concrete insights. 

Steer clear of leading questions to avoid biasing your participants’ responses. Employ a combination of open-ended inquiries for richer user stories and closed questions when pinpointing specifics is critical.

6. Data Dissection

It’s time to dig into the data goldmine you’ve collected. Look out for repeated patterns or trends in user responses and behaviors; they’re clues to what your users really need. 

Statistical tools aren’t just an excuse to raise the software budget, use them to cut through noise and highlight what matters quantitatively

And don’t shy away from qualitative feedback – code that data so themes jump out at you instead of playing hide-and-seek.

7. Report and Recommend

Distill your research data into a digestible format that decision-makers can quickly grasp. 

Point out the significant discoveries with a direct line back to your initial goals. Use the evidence you’ve gathered to advise on the next steps, which could involve revamping existing products, tweaking functionalities, or altering pricing.

8. Evolve Through Iteration

Remember that product development research isn’t a one-and-done deal, it’s an evolution through repetition. 

With each round of analysis and testing, refine your approach based on feedback and results obtained previously. 

The aim is continuous improvement of both your strategy and the end product itself.

9. Incorporate Continuous Feedback

Make it your business to know what users think of your product even after they’ve hit the ‘buy’ button. 

Set up a system for ongoing feedback with surveys and keep an eye on those KPIs like a hawk. 

Real-time insights can give you the edge, allowing you to pivot or tweak features when necessary.

10. Engage Stakeholders

Finally, don’t silo yourself in R&D product development, get out there and chat with stakeholders regularly because they’ve got skin in the game too. 

Keeping them looped in ensures that everyone is aware of the product direction. This means that research doesn’t end up being an expensive paperweight but stays relevant and actionable.

Stick with this approach, and you’re looking at research that’s practically guaranteed to keep your products sharp and ahead of the curve.

The PM’s Hot Take

In a market that prizes speed and disruption, the value of taking a strategic breather can’t be overstated. Quality research serves as this pause—it sharpens your focus to ensure you’re disrupting effectively and advancing with purpose. More importantly though, R&D reminds us that keeping customers happy is at the core of what we do. 


Alright, let’s wrap this up. You’ve got your hands on a blueprint that’s going to make you the go-to person for product insight through solid research—and yes, it matters big time. 

Think of product development research as less of a single step and more like the constant GPS signal keeping you from getting lost in feature wilderness.

We’ve chewed over surveys, experiments, and test runs quite a bit here. Now take a moment and ask yourself: Does my PM software cut it when I need snappy visuals or sleek categorization for all these insights? 

If there’s even a hint of doubt there, maybe give Fibery a try. It won’t cost you anything for 14 days.


What is product development research?

Think of product development use as detective work that zeroes in on what makes a good product great. It involves methodical analysis and a variety of research techniques designed to offer us hard facts steering our product strategies.

What is the difference between R&D and PD?

Imagine R&D as the birthplace of breakthroughs, encompassing the entire journey from concept to novel solutions. In contrast, Product Development takes those ideas and chisels away at them until they’re ready for prime time in the market.

What are the 4 major types of product development?

The four major types include new product development, product improvement, product line extensions, and product modifications, each addressing different market and business needs.

What is production research and development?

In essence, production R&D zeroes in on giving your manufacturing process a bit of a facelift. The goal is to ramp up efficiency while taking costs down several notches, and all without skimping on quality. 

This means rolling up our sleeves and working smarter by pulling in cutting-edge tech trends and smarter methods right where we build things.

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Infinitely flexible product discovery & development platform.