Most modern businesses have established processes in which a range of disciplines, such as ergonomics, design, business management and market research, collaborate in a structured fashion. The specification of requirements, which forms the basis of many product development processes, often has the potential end user and the context of use as its point of departure. In the process from concept development to prototyping, market launch and actual use, there are several steps in which market research can play a role. But what precise role does market research currently play? What knowledge does this profession contribute? Is it insight, validation? Or does the research function as a kind of gatekeeper, contributing to go/no-go decisions at each phase of development? To what extent is market research a full sparring partner for the management involved? In this issue of Research World we have asked a number of people involved in the development process to tell us more about product design within their organisations. What are the characteristic methods? What are the main issues? What are the trends for the near future? And what is the role of contemporary research? Can it be different; can it be better? Researchers also have their say.