Don’t throw out the data along with the failed concept

Product management and marketing teams often use primary research to test new product and service concepts. Before investing millions of dollars and years of development efforts they want to know if the concept has legs. Sometimes the research shows that the market does not have enough appetite for the concept to justify further investment. At that point the research has done its job. But often the results can provide additional value to the organization that is forgotten.

When research doesn’t support a new idea it’s easy for the results to be swept away with the concept itself. It happens for several reasons. Some of it is simple human nature: the team is disappointed when a new initiative is discontinued and they want to close the books on all activities related to the concept. In some cases the new initiative was sensitive so there are issues about sharing the data within the organization. Sometimes an ad hoc team was brought together for the initiative and then disbanded. And probably most common of all, the team gets busy with other projects and responsibilities. All of these are understandable. However, we see this as a missed opportunity for organizations to leverage the insights they gain in the concept testing research to benefit other parts of the business. They paid for the research, why not get the most return on it?

New product research typically explores the following areas:

  • Market behaviors such as the solutions in place today, purchase cycles and satisfaction with existing products and vendors
  • Unmet needs and pain-points associated with existing solutions
  • Purchase triggers that prompt an organization to evaluate their options
  • Criteria organizations use to evaluate products and vendors
  • Brand perceptions of the vendors on the market.

All of these insights apply to existing products and services. Although each product is unique many market characteristics are shared across product lines. All product marketing and management teams want more information about the market if they can get it – even if the data is not perfectly aligned to their products or services.

It’s true that sharing the information creates more work for the team that sponsored the research. They may have to edit the documents to eliminate sensitive information or repackage it in some way for a broader consumption. For the organization to realize the value from it the team likely needs to do more than post it to an internal knowledge base and hope somebody finds it – if possible they should proactively share it with other teams that might find the information useful.

In the end, most research engagements can provide insights that are valuable to teams beyond the one that sponsored it. Our opinion is, if you are going to invest in research, you may as well get the maximum return from it by repackaging and reusing it as much as possible.