Product Marketing Research
Talk to Product Users

Study product users. They produce valuable insights.

Qualitative research is an effective product marketing research tool because it examines reality.

Product users are your customers or people who use competitors’ products.

Product users decide product success or failure. They are experts about the products they use, regardless of economic, social, or educational status. They know how they use them, what they think about them, and what they feel about them.

Often, practical insights come from people who use products at home, work, or play. These insights are powerful, authoritative information.

To improve products and services and to create new products and services, use qualitative research focus groups and depth interviews.

Use qualitative research to,

  • understand product use behavior
  • understand attitudes about products and brands
  • get suggestions for improvement

Product interviews find out how and why people use products, and they examine users’ satisfaction and problems they face with products.

How to Do It – Qualitative Product Marketing Research

Product Use Behavior

How people use a product is behavior. Use behavior is fact. It is reality.

Observed behavior is the best. Self-reported behavior is sometimes less reliable. But if you can’t observe behavior, use self-reported behavior.


“How do you use a product?”
“Where do you use it?”
“When do you use it?”
“How often do you use it?”
“How easy or difficult it is to use?”
“How do you buy it?”

Product Attitudes

Find out why people use products. Discover perceptions, opinions, feelings, and desires about products or services they use.

Laddering is a powerful technique to identify attitudes about products. Link product features and benefits to emotions and beliefs because they influence attitudes.

Here are some example questions about attitudes:

“What is your overall opinion about product X?”
“What do like best about it?”
“What does the feature do for you?”
“What does the benefit do for you?”

Product Problems and Recommendations

Ask about product problems:

“What don’t you like about the product?”
“What is the biggest problem with product X?”
“What causes the problem?”
“What is the impact of the problem?”

Then ask about recommendations:

“What solutions have you tried?”
“Do solutions work? Please explain.”
“What would life be like if you could fix the problem?”
“What improvements do you suggest?”

When to Conduct Product Marketing Research

Test working products. You can use product research during

  • alpha tests
  • beta tests
  • test markets
  • commercial markets

An alpha test is a product test among internal members of a company.

A beta test is a product test with a limited number of customers.

A test market is a limited roll-out of the product in a couple of markets.

A commercial market is the product in the market.

Also, use the usability study if are testing a machine or software.

Usability tests the ease or difficulty of completing specific product tasks. You test usability of technology products, like computers, mobile phones, and software. You interview people during the usability test.

During alpha, beta, and market tests, you get user feedback to improve new products. You tune and tweak products for commercial markets or drop dud products.

During commercial markets, you get feedback to improve existing products. You renew and revitalize tired products.


Even if you depth interview only 5 to 10 users about product use, you gain practical, useful, and surprising information. Talk to your customers, and talk to competitors’ customers.

There is no excuse for not conducting product use interviews. Not knowing what users think and do about your products is ignorance.

Smart companies - big, medium, and small - conduct product marketing research. Use focus groups and depth interviews to discover and explore qualitative insights.

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