The role of research, particularly qualitative research, in concept development

Date of publication: June 15, 1991

Author: Stephen Wells


The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how market research can identify consumer needs and then assist in the development of concepts, and eventually of brands, to meet those needs: and brands, with their essential emotional components, rather than just products. Almost invariably qualitative research plays a greater part than quantitative work in the concept development element of the new product development process. Consequently the emphasis will be placed on describing the nature of the most effective contribution that can be made by qualitative research. However, I strongly believe that for the maximum value to be squeezed out of both qualitative and quantitative research the two methodologies should be integrated, complementing each other. I shall place particular emphasis on describing the practical aspects of how the various forms of qualitative and quantitative work are set up and integrated. The range of approaches described is obviously not exhaustive. They are intended to be illustrative of the ways in which consumers can become involved in the generation and development of new product ideas. The subject of idea evaluation is left to other papers in the monograph. While the different approaches and techniques are described in terms of their broad chronological use, it would of course be wrong to assume that every project has to evolve in this particular way. In order to exemplify how consumers, through the medium of qualitative research, can contribute to the development of successful products there is an appended case history of the development of a product called Creamy Dressings, a successful recent launch by a major food manufacturer in the UK.

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