March 2, 2017

How Conversation Research Can Help Discover New Product Lines

One of the first case studies of conversation research I can remember is when Listerine used social listening tools to find out what their customers said about their product. They discovered that many talked about the taste and burn in using it, but also that people sometimes use it to fight toenail fungus.

While that may sound funny, it’s no joke when you’re a brand manager and seeking to create new revenue streams for your company. Could Listerine have repackaged the formula as an application to help fight toenail fungus? Perhaps. Whether or not they did isn’t the point.

The point is are you looking at your customer’s conversations online to discover insights like use cases which can help your product team develop better or even different products?

We took a close look at Dirt Devil recently, not because they’re a client, but we wanted to run some tests on a consumer product that wasn’t difficult to distinguish from similarly named products. (We easily weeded out references to the weather anomaly and off-road race course and race truck by the same name.) These are the use cases we discovered:

Dirt Devil Use Cases - Conversation Research

Pet hair, hair, college dorms and hardwood floors were expected. But look some of the others.

An air pump for blacksmithing? That might be a new product idea. Sticker removal? That’s interesting. Beekeeping? Okay, maybe a little weird but what if you dive into the conversation and discover that the lower power hand-held vacs are able to remove bees from honeycombs without harming them and beekeepers everywhere would pay for one with larger receptacles?

If you’re only looking at word clouds and pie graphs of themes, sentiments and genders, you’re not seeing the fullness of the conversation. From a product innovation and feature enhancement standpoint, conversation research can be a treasure trove of opportunity and, eventually, treasure itself.

And as an aside, none of this type of conversation research is available using just software. These conversations about Dirt Devil were filtered and coded by hand. (Okay, by hands on a computer.) But you don’t get use cases for products as an output of automatic or algorithmic topic surfacing.

Are you ready to do some product innovation research with CRI? Drop us a line. We’d be glad to chat.


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