Keys to Successful Product Development #7: KNOW YOUR CONSUMER


Product development is a process with a goal.  That goal is to deliver a desirable product to the right audience in a profitable way.  Most companies spend a lot of time focusing on the product and the profitability but not much time on the consumer.  All too often we are greeted with silence when we ask clients who they are targeting with the product they’ve asked us to test.  After some silence, someone may say “millennials”.  That’s a start but there’s more to consumers and more to targeted marketing than age alone.   Design Research conducts consumer profile studies all the time.

It is important to understand that You are Not Your Consumer!

  • Neither is the president of your company or his/her mother-in-law.
  • You are far more knowledgeable about your product categories than any consumer will ever be.
  • If you are a designer, you have a much better developed sense of style than your consumer.
  • You are probably better educated and wealthier than your consumers.
  • You have a far better awareness of retailer positioning in your category than consumers do.



The best way to identify consumers is to conduct a category-wide purchase study in which consumers are asked if they have purchased any products in the category in a recent period of time.  We bolded category-wide because it is important to go beyond your brand’s own consumers – the goal is to understand who the consumers are that comprise the market, how and where your brands’ consumers fit in, and what opportunities you may be missing.  By asking a broad sample of consumers what product or brand they purchased, where they purchased it and how much they spent, we can deliver:


  • Demographics
    • Gender, age, educational attainment, household income, household size, region, homeowner vs. renter, type of area lived in (urban/suburban/rural) and race/ethnicity.
    • Key Segments of that profile that form clusters such as:
      • Young, urban couples
      • Young, suburban households with young children
      • Middle aged, suburban households with older children


  • Psychographics
    • Category Passion Segments (ex. “enthusiasts” versus “practicals”)
    • Category Sophistication Segments (ex. “first-timers” versus “sophisticates”)
    • Usage Frequency Segments (ex. “heavy users” versus “moderate” versus “infrequent”)
    • Expertise Level Segments (ex. “Gourmet Cooks” versus “Semi-Skilled” versus “Novice”)


Further, by analyzing data by stores most likely to shop in and most likely to purchase in, we can develop the same data described above for each key retailer in the category.


  • This enables clients to develop products specifically for each retailer.
    • Thus enabling us to screen for and test your new products with customers of that retailer…
    • Thus enabling you to present your new products as having been developed specifically and exclusively for their consumers!


Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you master your consumer and advance your product development and selling efforts.