Agile market research is expanding fast in consumer markets, where connecting with customer audiences early and often in the product development cycle provides increasing customer centricity.
It’s an exciting field that means product marketers no longer need to be tempted to make decisions based on opinion or historic scenarios. They can ask the target audience and receive results in just a few hours.
For anyone familiar with putting together large market research programmes, the phrase ‘agile market research’ can seem like a contradiction in terms. For many people market research is by definition time-consuming, complicated and expensive. But is this still true today?
In our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, the challenge is having sufficient touchpoints with the customer to inform the direction of our work. When we’re working in an agile and iterative way, that feedback is critical so we can improve and align with customer needs.
What does market research look like in 2023?
While there will always be a need for more traditional research, this tends to serve the more strategic, exploratory and in-depth business questions. For example, searching for an idea or formulating a hypothesis usually requires detailed and careful observation of user behaviour, using qualitative techniques.
But when it comes to typical tactical questions – such as testing needs or insights, or evaluating the potential of a new idea – then automation and standardised processes can be used to get results earlier. Questions to a target audience can be answered fast in one day, using the magic of automation and working with questions that are broken down into small bite-size chunks; also known as the ‘little and often’ approach. Small research tasks are easy to manage, test and create simple questionnaires around. They are also easy for respondents to answer accurately, which means better quality feedback and easy-to-read reports. When used in this manner, agile market research is fully aligned with the prototyping and experimentation techniques performed within agile business analysis.
The impact of agile market research
Agile research is completed in short feedback loops that repeat, so each step can be verified and improved to the maximum. It helps businesses stay on the right path, saving time and money. For example, if each aspect of a product or concept was tested and improved by only 5%, the cumulative benefit would be sizable, significantly increasing the return on investment.
Starting early, improving constantly
When using Agile research options, the whole process of product development changes as it’s easier to connect with the marketplace, select the most promising ideas and continue obtaining feedback on them iteratively, constantly improving them and tweaking direction.
Market research should be smoothly integrated into the decision-making process. When research is undertaken almost in real-time, and teams can easily test new ideas with their consumer audiences, then feedback can be more influential. The teams generating ideas tend not to be yet ‘wedded’ to them as they’re still new. It’s much harder to pivot when you’ve been developing in one direction for a long time. This all leads to a more effective and creative workflow.
The long-term benefit is a culture with built-in customer feedback, customer-centricity and collaboration with your audience.
By Olga Keating, Market Research Manager at Fastuna - the agile market research platform
Please note: blogs reflect the opinions of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the recommendations or guidance of the Agile Business Consortium.