What Are Product Research Tools? (With Best Practices)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 19 November 2022 | Published 12 May 2022

Updated 19 November 2022

Published 12 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Product research is an important process that enables product development teams to establish what consumers want in a product. Effective product research also allows companies to develop products that consumers are likely to prefer, purchase and refer others to try the same product. Knowing what product research entails and the product research tools to use can enable you to fulfil the demands of your customers effectively. In this article, we review what product research tools are, discuss why product research is important, understand why you require a product research tool and review factors and best practices when using these tools.

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What Are Product Research Tools?

Product research tools refer to tools that allow product development teams to manage their product offerings in a structured manner. These tools enable businesses to derive important insights into what customers want in a product. Product research is establishing whether a product might be successful in the market and ways of developing that product.

Why Is Product Research Important?

It is an essential stage prior to introducing additional features to a product, before launching a new product or when starting a new phase of the product lifecycle. Product research starts by conducting market research to determine the existence of similar products and investigating what consumers like or dislike about the product. You can conduct product research using different methods, such as concept testing, price testing, surveys, product demos and focus group discussions.

Here are reasons product research is important to a business:

  • Understand customer requirements: Your product requires resolving the customer's most pressing concerns. Product research allows you to collect data and attitudinal insights to better understand your customers' issues and develop the solutions they require.

  • Align business goals with customer preferences: Understanding your users' desires and how they connect to your product and business goals allows you to plan a product portfolio that benefits both the users and the company.

  • Help innovation: When you recognise exactly what your customers want, you can develop creative solutions to their problems and create a product they are likely to prefer.

  • Gain a competitive edge: Studying your competitors helps you understand how to position your product and pinpoint existing gaps, which might help you determine what features to include as you build a product.

  • Customer-centric orientation: With product research, the entire product team is clear on how to optimise initiatives to attain customer satisfaction, making it possible to manage the product development process by prioritising customer requirements and demands.

Related: Customer Satisfaction: How To Measure And Tips For Improvement

Why A Product Research Tool Is Essential?

Using tools in product research is important because:

  • Enables efficiency: Using tools in product development allows product teams to be more efficient and organised. For instance, some tools help systematise the process by organising research findings, which enables easier analysis and get important insights.

  • Allows qualitative and quantitative product research: Using tools in product research allows product teams to take into consideration both opinion-based and numerical in their research. Combining both approaches enables the team to understand product users effectively and infer reliable and actionable insights to enhance their product and satisfy the customers with that product better.

  • Avoids assumptions: Using research tools in product design and development limits the use of assumptions and guesses. By using research-based facts and data, product teams get as close as possible to the customer's preferences, which enhances the likelihood of the product gaining market traction.

  • Win stakeholders' agreement: Using data and analytics derived from scientific tools allows product teams to win the support of key stakeholders in the company. Validating product claims with data is more likely to convince the top management and shareholder rather than using gut feelings or intuition.

  • Adherence to best practices: Product management entails more than just product research, and the entire process may require adjustments if you miss one critical step. Research tools can assist you in creating workflows, setting reminders and developing strategies to ensure that you always adhere to best practices.

Related: What Is Product Management? (With Skills And Duties)

Best Practices For Successful Product Research

Product research is essential for mitigating erroneous product development decisions, recognising potential problems with your product and gaining an in-depth understanding of your customers' minds. This research assists you in designing a strategised approach for creating a product that customers adore. Here are the elements of successful product research:

Use accurate and unbiased data collection methods

The primary goal of product research is to gather reliable statistics that tell you how your customer feels about your product, such as their likes and dislikes, their wants or preferences and the difficulties they experience. If you use unreliable methods of data collection, your research can be unusable and counterproductive. Using reliable methods such as surveys, customer interviews and tools that provide reliable real-time product experience insights is an effective way to ensure the data you collect is unbiased and accurate.

Conduct a comprehensive competitive and comparative analysis

Product research is essential not only for studying customers and their requirements but is also critical to understanding your competition and the product's market share. Conduct a thorough examination of your rival companies' products, audiences and practices. This would assist you in analysing what is working for your audience, existing gaps and how to develop a more effective product for your customer base. You can augment your research by conducting a comparative assessment of ways to enhance the product. Examine your competitors and determine which features they offer you do not and what differentiates them.

For example, if you recognise how rival firms introduce features and how their buyers react to them, you can use that knowledge and insight to develop and launch upcoming features and create a better product that pleases customers and has distinct advantages.

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Make use of existing research materials

Marketplace and trade reports by organisations in your industry give you valuable insight into product development processes used by companies over the years and show how consumer trends have changed. This expands on your first-hand knowledge and adds a historical perspective to your research, allowing you to explore new market opportunities by using strategies that were successful in the past or develop your own by combining them. For example, you may discover an ingenious way of collecting feedback from customers or an effective way to test product offerings that you had not previously considered.

Related: New Product Development Process: Steps, Benefits And Tips

Segment results based on business goals

Segmentation entails categorising your findings according to the business goals. Segmenting enables you to analyse information separately, so you do not lose any valuable insights. Segmentation allows you to document research findings to enable the product team to refer to them when they require making guided decisions. You can also align business short-term and long-term goals to make the findings usable in the future.

For example, you may investigate customers' problems when using a specific product feature. After introducing new features, you might analyse any issues the previous product did not solve and ways you can complement the new products or identify any existing flaws in your marketing plan.

Related: How Much Do Product Managers Make? (With Career Info)

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Product Research Tool

Every business offers unique products with diverse requirements and deliverables. Before investing in a product research tool, it is essential to ensure that the tool can be beneficial for the product and the company and proceed accordingly. Here are some important factors to consider when choosing a product research tool:

Size and stage of your company and products

It is important to evaluate the size and stage of the company's products and its existing product offerings. For instance, a startup business with a lone product manager can pick one multi-purpose tool. The business can broaden the range of tools as it grows its product portfolio. A company with several products and a larger product team may require a vast and highly specialised stack of tools.

Features and functionality

Consider the product team requirements and identify potential issues and areas to improve. Once you do this, you can identify a tool that best addresses those issues and requirements. The tool can enable a team to work efficiently and reduce time on complex processes, such as data collection and analysis. For instance, a tool with data gathering and dissemination capability can collect customers' feedback and disseminate it directly to decision-makers, reducing the time required to get approvals.

Related: What Is A Product Designer? (Duties And Skills)

Usability and integrations

Before choosing a product research tool, determine how usable and how easy it can be to integrate it into the daily workflows. Some tools can be highly technical and specialised, which may require high technical ability to execute. When conducting usability tests, consider which teams are likely to use the tool. You can also consider the level of support the users might require in using the tool. It is important to consider how to onboard new and existing tool users.

Cost of the tool

Every product research tool represents a cost to the business. When choosing one, it is crucial to consider your budget and to check the fees, and plan finances accordingly then prepare for any additional costs. Some tools offer businesses a trial period where you can use the tool for free and purchase it later. This option can be helpful to small businesses or startups.

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