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Fine-Tuning Strategies: How Optimization Research Supports Brand Growth

Gennifer Jackson, Radius Insights, Radius Global Market Research 2021/10/gennifer-jackson-bio.jpg

by Gennifer Jackson

Vice President

Brands that place a high priority on Optimization research when they’re auditing their portfolio or developing new products or services have a greater opportunity to achieve in-market success and positive customer response. Optimization research provides teams with a clear view of how to drive demand for their products and services in a competitive landscape and offers specifics on customer needs and wants. Capturing customer input through optimization research ensures an offering resonates with target customers, drives loyalty, and contributes to the brand’s success and profitability, and contributes to the brand’s success and profitability.

Making features, benefits, and pricing decisions based on rich insights and customer input helps teams gain the specifics they need to deliver products or services that customers want.

 

When is Optimization research most helpful to brand teams?

Exploring the facets of product or service offerings is an ongoing process that helps stakeholders across the organization maintain a strong position for their brand in their marketplace. Optimization research delivers insights tailored to the brand’s development stage from early-stage market definition, to testing key features and benefits, to finalizing feature sets and pricing and building fully optimized products or services. This research guides teams through key steps in their development journey to help them meet customer needs while supporting their own internal goals.

Brand teams will typically commission research when they need to:

  • Revise their product portfolio to add or delete products or services based on growth objectives.
  • Meet new market demands with updated product or service refinements.
  • Identify the best pricing strategy to optimize competitiveness while providing value.
  • Address changes in customer preferences by finding out which features need an update based on new technology or emerging trends.
  • Gain better market positioning by leveraging customer insights to better align products and services with what customers want.
  • Optimize messaging to develop a communication strategy that resonates with target audiences at critical points in their journey.
  • Refine distribution and channels to reach the right customers at the right moment.

Optimization research offers deep insights into customer behavior, preferences, and motivations. This understanding enables brands to tailor offerings that resonate with their audience and stay ahead of competitors by adapting swiftly to market changes and consumer preferences. The insights also help brand teams build stronger activation strategies to enhance customer satisfaction.

Optimization research provides key insights that drive stronger revenue and brand growth.

Brands have key objectives in Optimization research. They may want to deliver products to market that hit a home run with consumers, or they may want to optimize their product portfolio to align their offerings with brand goals or market trends. Research insights identify white space and gaps where there is opportunity and provide a path forward for brand teams.

A thorough assessment of your products or services supports brand health and growth by:

  • Ensuring your lines appeal to the greatest number of customers.
  • Making it easy for your customers to develop loyalty and recommend you to others.
  • Recommending the best way to meet demand through product or service updates.

Brands that maintain a strong focus on optimizing their product portfolio build strength in the marketplace by remaining relevant to customers and launching new or updated products and services that fit seamlessly with what customers need and want.

Optimization research helps brands allocate resources wisely, optimizing ROI and minimizing risks.

Informed decisions lead to more effective strategies. Customer input is essential to develop successful products and services. Incorporating consumer or client testing and feedback into your development strategy greatly increases the likelihood that the offering will meet expectations and become a growth driver for your brand.

Staying close to customers helps brand teams stay nimble. Knowing what consumers are looking for gives teams confidence in making decisions, leading to an agile process that gets products to market faster, with the best features, pricing, and messaging.

Read more about how being lean and nimble requires customer input, and get specific suggestions on what type of research is most helpful for brand teams.

 

Collaboration with internal teams leads to stronger outcomes.

An important first step in Optimization research is determining your needs. Research elements will differ widely for tweaking an existing product versus developing a major new release, and the more potent the decisions are for the organization, the more critical it is to conduct reliable, rigorous research.

The next step is to work with internal researchers or a research partner to design the best approach, and make sure your internal teams, including stakeholders, are aligned around goals, information needs, and desired outcomes.

Our approach to Optimization research is focused on outcomes, and our first steps in an engagement are to talk with stakeholders, review their past research and needs, and develop an understanding of the current market landscape and competition. Developing this knowledge base ensures that we are addressing the team’s core issues and designing a research approach that will help them take action on the research insights we deliver.

 

What are the key elements of Optimization research?

Developing a high degree of confidence about what your customers want and how you can deliver a product or service while meeting your overall brand growth objectives requires a mix of Qualitative and Quantitative methods. Listening to customers and then validating what they’re saying with quantitative methodologies is an iterative process that, taken in steps, leads to a rich set of insights for brand teams. The three basic elements of Optimization research are:

Listen to customers to make better decisions.

People who use your products or services provide critical input. Qualitative discovery sessions including one-on-one interviews, focus groups, online bulletin boards, or pop-up experiences are key ways to engage with target consumers before you determine which features you want to assess. Teams can gain helpful input on the wants, needs, and pain points they need to address, which leads to better outcomes.

Design research that addresses specific needs.

Customer insights provide a base for testing your brand against the competition. It’s critical to design authentic research scenarios to ensure the insights are relevant and meaningful.

Activate Optimization research insights across functions.

Research insights have a primary function of optimizing the core product or service. Findings also provide rich insights that teams across the organization need in order to develop on-target messaging, customer service responses, and more.

When teams across the organization are invited into the conversation, with touchpoints throughout the process that help them track progress, they can begin to develop activation strategies so that they’re better prepared when the final research is available. Best research practices in Optimization research led to better product or service design, company-wide adoption, and more successful launches.

 

The right blend of research methodologies is essential for attaining strong outcomes.

The right mix of Qualitative and Quantitative research ensures that stakeholders will receive a comprehensive set of insights about consumer preferences, the market landscape, and potential product or service performance. This holistic approach helps brand teams make informed decisions as they develop activation strategies.

Qualitative immersive techniques determine market needs.

Qualitative methods, such as in-depth interviews and focus groups, help brand teams understand customer perceptions and motivations. Brand teams can gain these insights by interacting with customers in many ways, including through:

  • Online bulletin boards (OBBs) and popup communities that allow consumers to comment and provide feedback on their own schedule.
  • In-person interviews (IDIs) to see how customers react to early-stage concept tests.
  • Popup experiences where stakeholders or leadership interact with customers to gain firsthand knowledge.
  • In-home use tests (IHUT) and central location testing (CLT) give researchers an opportunity to see how consumers use products or learn about services in the consumer’s environment.
  • Co-creation groups and concept improvement sessions to guide early concepts.

 

Real-Time Concept Optimization™) connects brands with customers for fast feedback.

Real-Time Concept Optimization™ (RTCO) facilitates consumer-driven input on products, services, or other factors such as messaging, giving brand teams immediate feedback so they can refine and enhance concepts using customer input.

RTCO is designed to be an agile option for brands so they can quickly gain insights from their target customers, whether they’re looking for fast tweaks to messaging or input on draft concepts or prototypes to get feedback that product developers can integrate into their planning.

Quantitative techniques provide testing and validation of concepts.

Gathering data insights validates consumer preferences and current market trends. Surveys and testing can provide answers about preferred product features or service enhancements. A wide range of techniques are available, and typical Optimization research studies include a blend of those that follow.

  • Structured surveys provide insights on consumer opinions, preferences, and behaviors.
  • Conjoint analysis assesses consumer preferences for product features by asking them to choose between various combinations, and seeing what trade-offs they make.
  • Choice modeling evaluates consumer preferences by presenting consumers with hypothetical scenarios to discern their preferences, particularly with pricing.
  • Max Diff prioritizes preferences to create a hierarchy of what consumers want most.
  • Additional statistical analysis techniques, such as regression analysis and correlation, uncover patterns and insights regarding relationships to influence product or service optimization.

Which is the optimal choice model for solving a specific business issue?

Choice models provide a high degree of accuracy in predicting actual in-market behavior. A strong research partner will be able to design models that address the research requirements set by your team and deliver insights that teams can use in activation strategy.

We’ve compiled a best practices guide that provides details on selecting the right choice model for your brand’s growth.

 

Activation strategies.

When the Optimization research insights are in, we deliver reports and story-driven Executive Summaries specific to each team so they can integrate the insights into their work. For larger projects, we may recommend a LookingGlass™ session, which provides in-depth immersion in the activation strategy, or we can develop working sessions with small groups. It’s important to us that stakeholders understand the insights and their implications for the work they do. Brand teams can deploy various activation strategies to maximize their impact.

Our data-driven work can provide a base for teams to create key performance indicators to follow, such as usage and adoption metrics, social listening, or sales data analysis.

Each Optimization study can also serve as an important facet of overall brand tracking and health, helping teams across the organization identify the strategies that lift their brand. Our Brand Growth Navigator is a framework that leading brands use to guide their research program for long-term success.

In a landscape where change is constant, optimization research emerges as the guiding light for brands. Optimization research isn’t a one-time event; it’s an ongoing process vital for brand growth. By leveraging both qualitative and quantitative approaches strategically, brands can gain profound insights that drive innovation, improve customer satisfaction, and ultimately foster long-term success in an ever-evolving market..

Contact us to talk about your product or service optimization research needs.