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Developing and Testing Business Propositions with Research

Brands and businesses are constantly looking to develop new propositions as they seek to grow and innovate. In times when consumers wants, needs and demands are shifting fast - new business, product, service or brand propositions are an essential way to stay relevant in the market and deliver new revenue streams.

Market research plays a pivotal role in developing new propositions. From our own experiences, research helps to:


1. Inspire and inform the development of new products through a rich understanding of the target customers’ lifestyles and their latent needs and wants.

2. Build a clear understanding of the marketplace the new products or services will operate in

3. Develop and test new propositions and new brand, product and service concepts

4. Gauge the potential demand for innovation and change

Thanks to technology, research is now more agile than ever, and often conducted in short sprints that enable the client to develop their ideas and concepts with their teams and other stakeholders in quick time. During the initial stages, deep, immersive qualitative research is used to understand and ratify the problem that’s being solved, or what the opportunity really is (and how big it might be). During later stages, market research – both qualitative and quantitative – is then put into action to help test and develop the product or service and prepare it for a successful launch.

Capturing customer reactions

The process of developing new customer propositions has a number of stages depending on factors including budget, type of product or service and whether it’s an entirely new proposition or the tweaking of something that already exists.

Each of these stages benefits from a laser sharp understanding of how the target audience will respond and react to it, and how they value it in their busy lives. To achieve buy-in at a senior level (often with the Board), and to help size up the opportunity, quantitative research is used. This approach also helps identify such things as pricing strategies.

Classically, there are three stages of research:

1. Qualitative research for proposition development

2. Qualitative research for testing, development and refinement

3. Quantitative research for market testing and assessment.

The overall business process can be visualised like this:

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Qualitative research is typically used at the initial stage of development to understand the challenges, pain points, frustrations and everyday lives and experiences of the target customer. At Further we use online qualitative research methods, projective techniques and behavioural economics to uncover the real truths behind what consumers are doing and why. Importantly, we want to understand what they value so we can embed this in the new product or service.

During the second stage of proposition development, we look to understand the appeal of individual components of the proposition and identify the key elements that can be used in positioning the proposition. We might use creative exercises at this stage to get the target audience to think creatively around how they'd communicate the benefits.

The third and final stage harnesses quantitative research, which is done with a much larger sample size – typically in the range of 1,000 – 10,000. As well as attempting to identify the overall appeal to the market, this stage is also essential in segmenting the target audience and then tailoring any communications further down the line.

Other forms of research put to work during proposition development include desk research at the beginning to identify market context and competitive offers, and tracking studies to establish the success (or sometimes failure) of the products and services once they have launched to market.

For example, our client Unicef wanted to develop a new fundraising proposition that appealed to families. We undertook a deeply immersive and intensive body of research approach which enabled the team at Unicef to get close to the everyday lives of the chosen families and allowed them to be actively involved in the process at every step.

Other approaches that we have taken include intensive hot-house sessions with clients that aim to develop new propositions in as little as five days. Research programs like these need to be highly structured and run over short, intensive periods to springboard creativity and instinct. Client teams involved in these workshops include customer experience, communications, marketing, branding, design and continuous improvement. The result is that the process takes as little as a few days where once it took months.

Can we help you develop your propositions, products and services?

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