As a Product Manager, formal market research may or may not be a part of your role. In some organizations – especially larger companies – formal market research is carried out by a specialist function in the marketing department. At smaller organizations, product managers may be asked to play this role.

Why Market Research in Product Management?

As a Product Manager – when you perform market research, your number one focus is your customer and the market that they are part of. As a Product Manager all of your decisions should be based on market research. Without Market Research you cannot:

  • Identify new markets for your product/product line to enter.
  • Tell what your market penetration is.
  • Drill down to identify the right target market for you product/product line.
  • Keep a watching brief over the organizations reputation in the marketplace and take affirmative action where necessary.
  • Identify opportunities for new product development that become apparent from gaps in the marketplace.
  • Determine, drive or change the marketing mix.
  • Position the product correctly.

What is Market Research?

So what is market research as it pertains to being a Product Manager?

First you need to understand the market that you’re in, whether it is a consumer market or a business market.

This means you need to clearly define what sector you are working in. This might sound a little strange! But say you work for a software company that designs software purely for the aviation industry. Which industry are you in? No – it’s not the software industry! You are not selling products to the software industry, but to the aviation industry. This means that your focus should be on aviation. You need to keep abreast of technological changes in the software industry as well but to understand your customer your head must firmly be in the aviation field.

Practically speaking, your market research can involve (this list is not exhaustive):

  • visiting customers;
  • visiting suppliers;
  • reading white papers;
  • reading industry journals;
  • going to seminars/courses;
  • networking;
  • surveying customers;
  • joining trade associations;
  • keeping up to date with industry standards & reports;
  • attending conventions; forums; panels;
  • governmental findings.