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The Synergy between Market Research and UX

by Tim Bosenick , 21.09.2012

Good design and usability principles have been, for many years, important considerations for organizations, particularly in industries such as automotive and e-commerce. However, a confluence of trends in the broader consumer market has created interdependency between market research and user experience (UX) research.

Findings ways for these two practice areas to work together is the key to new understanding and measurement of consumer attitudes, behaviors and satisfaction. Most important, perhaps, is translating this qualitative and quantitative data into actionable recommendations for improving the overall “user experience.”

So how and in what ways will these two distinct practices optimally converge in the future? There are three unique opportunity areas for market researchers and UX researchers to collaborate that will substantially benefit organizations.

1. Early, consistent involvement throughout the Product Development Life Cycle

Market researchers are typically brought into the early stages of the product development lifecycle, offering qualitative research perspectives to evaluate users’ needs, quantitative research to estimate market size – and, later in the process,  satisfaction surveys once the product is ready.  UX researchers are brought in to optimize the design, the functions, the usability – focusing on quantitative aspects of the research.
These different researchers rarely talk to each other or see each other’s reports. This is a missed opportunity. If UX researchers can optimize the product throughout the life cycle – from wireframes to packaging – and market researchers provide satisfaction and other measures, we have the ability to connect both qualitative  and quantitative data results in actionable recommendations throughout the entire process. The result is a more positive  overall user experience.

2. The evolution of usability

Usability is clearly about the behavior of users when interacting with products or services and (also) about satisfaction. However, organizations are recognizing that users are demanding more.  The concept of user experience is broader and takes more emotional factors into account than usability. Measuring the user experience involves attitudinal aspects as well as behavioral ones.  UX researchers are now expected to really understand what is going on in the head of the user, which involves applying satisfaction-like measures to quantify assumptions; this is just one area where market research can play a role.

Since measuring the ‘user experience’ involves market research and UX tools, organizations should demand a team that can successfully integrate both practices to address questions and deliver actionable results.

3. UX, market researchers work together to produce actionable recommendations

At times, market research data (e.g. a satisfaction tracker) can be at a very high or abstract level; producing  recommendations from these insights regarding the actual design of a product can be difficult. This is exactly what UX researchers can do: Explain market research data to add a new level of actionability.

Market researchers skillfully measure emotions, attitudes and opinions. UX researchers are very good at analyzing and interpreting behavior and have an ongoing role to give actionable recommendations on the actual design of the product. The key is to combine these skill sets.

When that combination happens, it produces high level insights for the C-level executive and actionable recommendations for the product managers. This is where the opportunity lies. This is the future of market research and UX research. This is how organizations can truly benefit from a team that speaks both marketing and UX.

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