Product development market research methods

August 20, 2021

Here are three B2B research methodologies for product marketers.

Product development market research is the best way to ensure that a company brings their product to market or communicate new features successfully. Before investing time, energy and money behind a launch, product marketers look to conduct B2B market research. One of the most popular forms of research for this group is competitive benchmarking.

Competitive benchmarking informs business stakeholders on how to sell more effectively, finesse messaging, and tweak pricing to be as competitive as possible. A good competitive feature benchmark report reveals where competition is strong and where it’s weak. Additionally, product development market research gives insight into where adjusting a feature could offer a competitive advantage. Product development market research can also gather customer sentiment for different aspects of your competitors’ products.

That said, getting an unbiased, accurate, and comprehensive report is easier said than done. Traditionally, there are three potential routes that businesses take: market research reports, consulting services, or an internal sales/marketing team soliciting feedback from customers. As the table below demonstrates, however, each of these routes has problems with either bias, access, or both.

Three research methodologies for product marketers

Data BiasData Access
Consulting FirmsFirms are paid based on engagement time. They are incentivized to please the client with data, form a flattering narrative, and keep the client.Consulting firms rely mostly on their own consultants and partners for their expertise.
Market ReportsMarket research reports gather broad insights on the industry, but are not specific to the client’s needs.Data consists mostly of compiled secondary sources that are synthesized and consolidated.
Internal Marketing TeamThe sales representative will be biased toward information making their job easier or making them look good – generally driving price down.Sales and marketing representatives only have access to current customers — not new potential customers or competitors.

How to Use B2B Surveys and B2B Panels for Competitive Feature Benchmarks

Competitive benchmarks should consist of a combination of B2B panels (qualitative data) and B2B surveys (quantitative data). For instance, it’s important to know a certain number of quantitative data points such as sales volume, pricing or promotions. This helps in determining if your competitors charge clients prorated amounts or have package deals.

In addition to this, however, you want qualitative data. For instance, this could include questions like: how happy are customers with certain features? Which features are easiest to sell?  Which features are customers most unhappy with? To get answers to the qualitative and quantitative questions that companies have for feature benchmarking, you need to speak with stakeholders in key categories. Here’s what these stakeholders would look like for each element of a competitive benchmark:

  • High-level market scan: former heads of marketing and/or sales at the market leader company. These people know the market leader’s products, the competitors, the distributors, and the available features on the industry landscape inside-out.
  • Precise feature analysis on a specific brand: Former heads of product at the competitors or a distributor who distributes the features for the feature benchmark
  • Precise feature comparison: large survey of customers for a “voice of customer report” on sentiment of various features.
  • Advertising/positioning: former head of advertising or marketing at each competitor, or a senior ad executive from a large agency that worked with the industry leaders.

Executive B2B surveys collect insights and data from large sample sizes of each of these groups.

Unlike market reports, expert surveys use data taken straight from the source. Specifically, they use data from customers, employees, and distributors.

Additionally, expert surveys do not rely on networks for contacting members of each data source. Because of this, they can access a large enough sample size of unbiased respondents to ensure the accuracy of the data. Consequently, this gives companies valuable information on how they should position themselves vis-a-vis pricing, messaging, and product roadmaps.

The foundation and most important aspect of a robust competitive feature benchmark is getting comprehensive, accurate data from the right sources.

One step further: Applying the Q3 Formula for the most comprehensive competitive benchmarking

To gain an understanding of your competitors’ products, services, pricing, and features, companies need to collect insights from three key stakeholders in a 360 manner:

  • Customers of your competitors
  • Distributors for your competitors
  • Employees of your competitors

These three groups are necessary to gaining qualitative and quantitative data on, not only the current position of your competitors, but also their intentions for future positioning. This allows your company to develop strategies for the competitor’s strategic roadmap.

The NewtonX Q3 Formula gathers quantitative (pricing, features, employee count, etc.) and qualitative (strategic roadmap, future features, etc.) insights from them. Conversely, market reports often present generic data about a market not directly relevant from the exact questions your company has. Whereas a Q3 B2B survey asks the exact questions you have straight to the source: customers, employees, and distributors. Additionally, because NewtonX Q3 surveys do not rely on pre-existing networks, we can access a large enough sample size of unbiased respondents to ensure the accuracy of the data and its statistical relevance.

The most important part of competitive benchmarking is getting comprehensive, accurate data from the right sources. However, traditional approaches to competitive benchmarking do neither. Consequently, this can have very serious ramifications for a company’s competitive position and strategic roadmap. Instead of using traditional methods, the best way to get up-to-date, accurate data on your competitors is to leverage the power of expert B2B survey providers like NewtonX.

About NewtonX

NewtonX is the only B2B market research company that connects forward-thinking companies with the exact professionals required to solve any problem. Our proprietary AI-driven search scans over 1.1 billion minds across 140 industries to find the highest quality expertise in the world.

We recently found 72% of research leaders say they want help actioning and implementing their data. Learn how NewtonX can help you get high quality data and better insights from your research with our innovative methodology.

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