How to Create Better Products Using Consumer Insights

Using customer preferences to shape product lines

02 February 2016

If you're in the product development business, there is a good chance you value feedback from your customers or potential customers. In order for your product to be successful, it needs to satisfy what people want and need. While there are many ways to capture insights from the consumer, including one-on-one interviews, focus groups and surveys, there is one key area many brands overlook: consumer reviews.

When a consumer is interested in purchasing a product online or in a brick-and-mortar store, what is the first thing that they typically do? Usually, they visit websites to research the product and to read reviews from others who have already purchased the product. Online reviews are extremely important because they have the power to influence a potential customer to buy or not buy.  In addition to a star rating system, these reviews often contain very useful information such as likes, dislikes, and demographic information about the reviewer.  The online reviews also provide manufacturers with valuable insight into the consumers' preferences. This information can then be applied to the development of future products.

If insights from online reviews are not currently incorporated into your product development process, you should definitely start. Online review content is available for free at several online retailers and there is no need to limit reviews to your particular product. Capturing information from competitive products and similar products in your target market are equally as valuable.

How do you use online reviews to your benefit? The first step is to look for specific terms related to the reviewer's perception of the product, while keeping track of the number of times that these specific terms are mentioned across reviewers. For example, a review about a blender could mention that the blender is easy to use, has good ice crushing ability and is noisy.  

The next step is to take the total number of mentions for each term related to customer perception and categorize each mention as positive or negative. For instance, most consumers will consider a noisy blender to be a nuisance while some may view it as an indicator that the blender is powerful and heavy duty.

After analyzing consumer feedback, you can identify what aspect of your product received negative responses and you can reevaluate and address these elements, ultimately improving your product while meeting the needs of the consumer.

Questions on how to implement this effectively? Email for more information!

Ren Powell is the Operations Manager in Intertek’s Product Intelligence Product Performance Consulting group. Ren aims to improve the retail experience by providing clients with the tools necessary to properly execute their strategy and make better business decisions. He does this through evaluating product categories and determining the best product and strategy for the client’s customers. Ren earned his mechanical engineering degrees from Georgia Institute of Technology.