How to develop tech that people want

How to develop tech that people want

#LEAP23 was a hotbed for idea-sharing and IRL market research, with over 170k people in attendance. Here’s a reminder to make research a core component of your tech and business development.

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This week we’re quoting…

Reena Sooch (Head of Digital and Connected Health at Ipsos)

What Sooch said:

“Market research should be at the forefront of technology development – not an afterthought.”

What does market research do? 

Sooch was speaking specifically about health tech. But the point stands across all tech – market research needs to happen at an early stage, so the knowledge gained through it can feed into the development of the tech. 

In 2021, the global revenue of the market research industry topped USD $76.4 billion – more than twice as much as in 2008 (source: Statista). Good market research has a number of effects on the development of a product and/or a business. As well as the obvious (giving you a solid understanding of your market, and what your ideal customer actually needs), it can: 

  • Help you build a strong reputation and show that you’re serious about creating something that will have a meaningful impact
  • Build brand or product awareness – early market research means the people who act as your research subjects will know about your tech, feel a sense of involvement in its development, and be curious to experience the end product
  • Enable you to position your technology not just within a market, but within specific segments and trends
  • Establish a precedent for listening to customers and responding to their feedback – so right from the start, your users will trust that you care about preferences and opinions
  • Help you develop an effective marketing plan that’s relevant to your audience, and figure out what kind of content and communication they will (or won’t) connect with 

So developers who assume market research is only about testing a product are missing a trick. Several tricks, in fact. 

Two way street: tech is making market research easier (and better)

The good news for tech innovators is that the relationship between technology and market research is (increasingly) a symbiotic phenomenon. 

Market research makes tech better. But tech is also making market research better – and much easier. A new generation of research tools means that entrepreneurs and companies can understand how their users think, and what they need, more easily than in the past. Don’t get us wrong, in-person focus groups and on-the-ground research is still incredibly valuable; but you can tap into a vast pool of research opportunities in the digital world, too. 

Here are some of the technologies making market research better right now: 

  • Automation tech – self-serve automated market research platforms are allowing startups (even the smallest ones) to benefit from real-time, accurate insights from their market. Not just by gathering and analysing second-hand data, but by providing access to fast, efficient ways to conduct primary research (like surveys)
  • Neuroscience – marketing is always about human brains. It’s about understanding what your customers respond to, and leveraging that understanding. So neuroscience is increasingly driving better efficiency in market research. Facial coding tech, for example, enables marketers to watch how people react to their products or marketing materials by analysing eye movements and facial expressions.
  • VR, XR and simulated environments – XR technology now enables businesses to show customers how they might experience a product or technology before it’s ready for them to try it IRL. They might be able to look at it, interact with it, and share feedback on its design; giving developers early-stage insights into what their users will respond well to, and what they won’t like
  • AI – you know what we’re going to say, but we’ll say it anyway: AI, when applied to conventional market research strategies (like ad testing), enables you to collect, analyse, and compare a vast amount of data very quickly. You can tap into a world’s worth of real-life market research and zoom in on the factors that are most relevant to your technology

Keep up with the pace of change

Market research needs to happen early. And then it needs to happen again. And again, and again – continuously, forever

It’s the way to keep up with constant change within the tech industry and in society. Your users are always changing, and the range of technologies available to them is always changing. 

At LEAP 2023, we observed tech developers and CTOs in a constant state of market research: talking, listening, demonstrating and experimenting in real life – in a setting that was designed for curiosity, creativity, and progress. And it was a joy to watch; because understanding people is essential to building and sustaining a successful business and having a positive, meaningful, long-lasting impact. 

Read the blog: From agile research to effective health tech

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