Innovation demands continued customer-focused research

Presented by GLG

Successful product development means knowing what’s important to your audience and why — and what they’re willing to spend on it. For insight into nailing customer-focused product development at every stage of the process, don’t miss this VB Spotlight.

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When budgets get tight, one of the first things to go is product development — but innovation should never take a hit.

“It’s incredibly important to continue to focus on innovation, because when you look to past downturns, companies that succeed on the other side of these recessions and downturns are companies who are investing constantly in being innovative,” says Manasvi Thawani, director of research insights at GLG. “It helps them come out on the other side and emerge successful.”

One of the key reasons is that companies that focus on innovation are preparing for the future. When the demand curve pops back up, these companies have put in all the time and resources necessary to make sure they’re right there with the products and services their customers want and need. And even when demand dips in a downturn, the demand for quality never declines. Staying competitive is about continuing to serve your customers with the highest quality products. Finally, it feeds directly into competitive differentiation.

“When your competitors are not investing in innovation or product development, it sets you apart, because you as a company are prioritizing your customers’ needs by constantly innovating and meeting them where their demands are, by continuously focusing on product development,” Thawani says.

How do you achieve this? Customer research, the heart of customer-centric product development, says Hungyen Nguyen, senior engagement manager of research insights at GLG.

“You’re always trying to maximize what you know about your product before it goes to full launch,” Nguyen explains. “And you’re trying to minimize any surprises that occur once it’s on the market.”

Preventing a Ticketmaster/Taylor Swift meltdown

When Taylor Swift tickets went on sale last November, the Ticketmaster rollout didn’t go as planned: The website crashed, was down for hours, and hundreds of thousands of fans didn’t get their seats.

This may have been prevented by a technology solution in development from one of GLG’s recent clients. It’s designed to help companies slash website downtime, or even charge their users extra for uninterrupted service, based on consumption needs.

The company wanted to know if their proposed new product was viable in the market: would companies like Ticketmaster be interested in purchasing a solution that could prevent or shorten downtime? Which industries would offer the most opportunity? And how much would customers be willing to pay?

GLG recommended that two-pronged approach, starting with quantitative work to suss out what kind of value companies would put on the ability to slash their disaster recovery time, and used qualitative work to validate the most promising industries, what companies in those industries were expecting for that new product and also nail down broad price ranges.

“This is an iterative process where you continue to do research as you find more information,” Nguyen said. After following up their findings, GLG recommended that the company walk down the road map for product development to further refine that price point with a choice-based price check, narrow down the industries to target and uncover potential eager customers. They ran a Van Westendorp, a method that identifies critical price thresholds.

“That helped us understand what is cheap, but not too cheap? What is expensive, but not too expensive?” she says. “That helped the pricing strategy team come up with more marketing ideas and move along their road map for product development.”

Critical product research at every stage

Companies need to embed research into the overall product development road map strategy, Thawani adds, being very deliberate about the role that customer sentiment has in the process, and taking each innovative product idea through a research-led, market-driven, data-driven approach.  

“Your customers are with you for a reason. Your competitors’ customers are not with you for a reason,” she says. “Getting that unbiased market view when you’re doing an unmet needs analysis is the best way to get started on your product development research journey.”

And throughout the whole life cycle of strategizing, embedding market research into every single step, whether it’s going to market, price optimization, even early on during the market assessment, and understand where those white spaces are, is key.

“I find that successful products always start with very thoughtful research,” she says. “Given the Ticketmaster example, that’s just more validation for us to know that customer research is something that’s needed in the world that we live in now. It’s about incorporating research checkpoints into the product development road map before spending millions of dollars on going to market, and experiencing a catastrophe.”

To hear more about data-driven market research, including a look at the four stages of product development, how to boost product success after launch and more, don’t miss this VB On Demand event!

Watch free on demand now!


  • Identifying unmet needs from early stages through to product launch
  • Methodical approaches to achieve critical insights
  • Identifying key target groups
  • Uncovering customer needs and pain points
  • Validating the potential of your product
  • Optimize launch and product communications


  • Manasvi Thawani, Director of Research Insights, GLG
  • Hungyen Nguyen, Senior Engagement Manager, Research Insights, GLG
  • Art Cole, Moderator, VentureBeat

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