How to Use Qualitative and Quantitative Research in New Product Development

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I recently came across the new ad from Domino’s Pizza where they show a clip of focus groups they conducted with consumers about their products. I love it! The message was clear: they listened to their customers. Their management and product teams were brave enough to really pay attention to what customers think. I’ll be eternally grateful to Domino’s pizza for the message sent about the value of market research.


This may not sound as a novel idea, but many, many companies go about their business thinking they don’t need to conduct market research in order to improve their products and grow. They believe they know enough about their industry and product category that there is nothing new to learn. Then there are companies that are barely aware of the importance of research, but see it as an expense and not an investment. They prefer to throw spaghetti at the walls and see what sticks.


I don’t know how many focus groups Domino’s did or if they also used other research methods to test their improved pizzas, but the important thing here is that they were willing to listen to their customers.


Now regarding methodology for new product development, I always advise clients to combine qualitative (e.g. focus groups) and quantitative research (e.g. surveys) methods.


Qualitative research is by definition exploratory, and it is used when we don’t know what to expect, to define the problem or develop an approach to the problem. It’s also used to go deeper into issues of interest and explore nuances related to the problem at hand.


Quantitative research is conclusive in its purpose as it tries to quantify the problem and understand how prevalent it is by looking for projectable results to a larger population.


Here are some guidelines to use both types of research in new product development:



Combining both approaches when developing new products will give you a solid foundation to make the right decisions for your business grounded in consumer insights.


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Comments Comments

Michelle Lemire Posted: February 9, 2010

Very good points, Michaela. You do have to wonder why companies would rely on the opinions of those immediately surrounding them (employees, people in the room at the time, neighbors, etc.) to deliver the voice of the customer rather than simply asking their customers… What are they afraid of?

Market research for Startups Posted: February 12, 2010

Very good and important points indeed.
I will insist on quantitative research. Many people think it is only open to big names only but it is actually a pity and it is wrong.
Pre-startups are maybe those who need it the most as they don’t have clients yet, they don’t have succeeded yet and it is really important for them to get some feedback from their potential client.
It helps as well to strengthen their business plan and get some fundings.
Do some research before starting!!! Avoid mistakes!!!

Scott Owens of SME Research Posted: May 9, 2011

I agree with the poster above. Quantitative market research has never been cheaper thanks to the rise of online surveying. There really is no excuse for not assessing your market before finalising your business plan.

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