Consumer needs study: explanation, examples and roadmap
Meeting users' needs is an indispensable aspect of a good user experience. In this guide, we explain what a consumer needs study is, provide free samples and show you how to get started with it.
What is a consumer needs study?
A consumer needs study is a research method for identifying the needs, wants and expectations of target users.
The purpose of a consumer needs study is to gain in-depth insight into what people really need, so that companies can develop products or services to meet them.
Questionnaire examples of a consumer needs study
Below are some examples you can use to conduct a consumer needs study. We provide sample consumer needs study questions for you. Download the questionnaire for interviews, focus groups and surveys using the button below!Download questionnaires
The benefits of a consumer needs study
After conducting a consumer needs study, you will have clearly identified the needs, wants and preferences of users. This brings a number of benefits:
- Customer-centric approach. Needs research puts the focus on the user and prevents steering on assumptions. It helps companies better understand the target audience, which is essential for creating value-added products and services.
- Identification of opportunities and market niches. Through needs research, unmet needs and problems of users can be discovered. Thus, new opportunities are discovered. By then capitalizing on these, new concepts can be developed and specific market niches can be addressed.
- Reducing risks and costs. Conducting needs research reveals what users want and need. These insights can be used as a starting point when coming up with a new concept, reducing the chance that companies will invest in products or services that no one wants.
- Competitive advantage. Organizations that conduct needs research and effectively apply the insights gained have a competitive advantage. They can offer products and services that meet users' needs better than their competitors, allowing them to stand out in the marketplace.
Consumer needs research in UX and Market Researach
Consumer needs study are popular research methods, used in both UX Research as well as Market Research.
Consumer Needs Research in UX
Consumer needs research plays an essential role within user experience (UX) research. By understanding the needs, wants and preferences of users, designers can develop products and services that seamlessly match them. We've listed the benefits of conducting needs research within UX for you below:
- User-centric approach. Needs research emphasizes understanding users at a deeper level. By understanding their needs, goals, motivations and challenges, UX designers can create products that better match users' expectations and behaviors. It helps develop a user-centered approach to design.
- Contextual insights. Depending on the type of requirements research being conducted, a wide range of contextual insights can be gathered. These can include the physical environment, technological constraints, social interactions and user scenarios. By gathering this contextual information, UX designers can make design decisions that take into account the context in which the product will be used.
- Identification of pain points. Needs research allows UX designers to identify pain points and challenges in existing user experiences. These can range from frustrations with existing products to unmet needs in the marketplace that require new solutions.
- Validation of design decisions. Needs research provides a basis for validating design decisions. With the insights from needs research, design decisions can be substantiated and justified without having to rely on assumptions. This increases the chances of developing successful designs and solutions that add value to the target audience.
- Iterative process. Conducting needs research structurally allows UX designers to continuously improve and adapt their designs to users' changing needs and expectations. It helps identify opportunities for optimization and solve problems in the design process.
Consumer Needs Research in Market Research
Whereas Consumer Needs Research within UX is often deployed on behalf of digital products, in market research it can also include non-digital products or services. The main reasons for deploying needs research as part of a market research strategy are:
- Marketing strategies. Needs research can have a major impact on a company's marketing strategy. By responding to customer needs in marketing communications, campaigns can be developed accordingly. This helps create more support among the target audience and thus can have a positive effect on the bottom line.
- Competitive analysis. When conducting needs research, other companies that consumers use are often asked about as well. This reveals what players there are in the market and how they meet the needs of the target group.
- Customer satisfaction and loyalty. Understanding customer needs and responding to them can increase customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers are often more loyal and can also generate positive word-of-mouth advertising.
When do you conduct a consumer needs study?
Within UX Research
A consumer needs study can be conducted at different points in the development process. Here it is strongly recommended to conduct a consumer needs study in the exploratory phase. This phase is characterized by the fact that no (new) concept has been developed yet. The insights are thus used as a basis for developing a new concept, product or service.
However, it can also happen that in the validation phase - when concepts have been worked out or a prototype has been made - or in the optimization phase - when the product has been put on the market - it is determined that the solution does not meet the needs of users. In that case, it may be advisable to still conduct a consumer needs study so that the concept or product can be redeveloped.
Within Market Research
Within market research, consumer needs studies can also be conducted at different times. It is advisable to conduct consumer needs research before starting to create a new marketing campaign, product or service so that the insights from the research can be incorporated into the design. Once a design is in place, these can be tested using concept testing and pretesting to ensure that they meet the needs of the target audience.
So while it is advisable to conduct needs research before launching a new product, service or marketing campaign, in practice this does not always happen. When sales of a new product or service or marketing campaign are disappointing, needs research is often still conducted in that case.
Translated with DeepL.com (free version)
What methods do you use when conducting a consumer needs study?
When conducting a consumer needs study, there are several methods you can use. The final research design depends on the nature of the research and the target group. Of course, it is also possible to combine different methods.
- Interviews. Here you conduct in-depth interviews with individuals or groups to gather detailed information about their needs and experiences. Because there is interaction between the interviewer and the tester, in-depth questions can be asked and a large amount of information can be gathered.
- Focus groups. It is also possible to use a group discussion to bring together users from the target group and go deeper into certain topics. Because there is interaction between the participants, additional insights are gathered.
- Surveys. This includes the creation of structured questionnaires that can be presented to a large group of people. Surveys can be conducted online, by phone or in person.
- User testing. This involves letting people try a product or service and observing their interaction and feedback to understand how well it meets their needs.
Step-by step plan for conducting a consumer needs study
Below we have listed the 10-step plan for conducting a consumer needs study for you.
Step 1: Define the purpose of the consumer needs study
Clearly define what you want to accomplish with the consumer needs study. Formulate a research question you want to answer. Establish main and sub-questions to conduct the research.
Step 2: Target group criteria and recruiting respondents
Take your time to think carefully about the target group criteria. Start recruiting respondents yourself in time or make use of our Recruitment Service.
Step 3: Choose the research method
Determine which research method(s) you want to use to answer the main and sub questions. You can use different techniques, such as questionnaires, interviews, focus groups or user tests. Would you like to be able to generalize the results? Then you would do well to use quantitative methods (questionnaires) in addition to qualitative methods (interviews, focus groups and user tests).
Step 4: Develop the research instruments
Make the chosen research methods concrete for your situation. In the case of surveys, develop a questionnaire. In the case of interviews, an interview guide and in the case of focus groups, a topic list. Make sure the questions are clear, straightforward and neutral to get the best results.
Step 5: Plan the data collection
Make sure you plan ahead and allow for some downtime. For example, recruitment may take longer or people may cancel unexpectedly. Provide a realistic lead time (2 - 4 weeks).
Step 6: Conduct the consumer needs study
To conduct a consumer needs study, it is important to take a structured approach. Make sure you have gained experience with the research methodologies you employ. For example, do a test run with a colleague to make sure everything runs smoothly later on.
Step 7: Analyze the data
Evaluate the collected data and analyze it thoroughly. Use statistical methods, thematic analysis or other appropriate techniques to interpret the data. Identify patterns, trends and key insights that emerge from the data. Take lots of notes and consider working with hashtags (e.g., #painpoint, #preference, etc.) to aid analysis.
Step 8: Draw conclusions and make recommendations
Based on the data and analysis, draw conclusions about the needs of your target audience. Make your recommendations concrete and logical by linking them to the findings from hte research.
Step 9: Communicate and implement the results
Share the results of your consumer needs study with relevant stakeholders within your organization. Ensure the insights are understood and action is taken on the recommendations. Use our sample research report for inspiration.
Step 10: Monitor and evaluate
Monitor what happens after implementing the recommendations. Evaluate whether the changes have resulted in improvements and whether the needs of your target audience are better met. If necessary, you can make adjustments based on the feedback and continue to monitor for continuous improvement.
Common challenges in conducting needs research
Conducting a consumer needs study can present some challenges. Some common challenges include:
- Representative sample. Obtaining a representative sample can be difficult, especially if the target population is diverse. Get a good mix of participants to ensure that the results are generalizable.
- Recruitment. For many companies, recruiting respondents takes more time than estimated in advance. Take this into account in the planning and consider outsourcing (part of) the recruitment of respondents. We can help you with this.
- Limited resources. Conducting a thorough consumer needs study can be time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, consider conducting the survey online. This will reduce costs by up to 50%. Use our platform, recruitment service or research service to do so.