We have an idea, what should we do next?

Shape Sorter

Which toy design has the most buying potential for kids and parents?

Overview - The product concept team at a national toy innovator wanted to know which if they should continue to development with a toy idea.  The team had several ideas that had already undergone some testing, but they wanted a deeper understanding of what parents and their children liked and disliked about the concept.

Collaborations - Project managers, designers, local assistant

Research methods - In-depth interviews of parents and children, questionnaires, card sort

Method consideration/description - For this study, I conducted 10 in-depth interviews with parents and children, and conducted a card sort of competitive products. I chose to conduct interviews because we wanted to be able to interact with customers and users, see reactions to concept videos and ask follow-up questions. Since we also wanted to see what other types of toys the the kids like and why they liked them, I had participants sort competitive toys by how fun they were (or thought they would be) and used cluster analysis to understand which toys of rated similarly for fun.


User interviews are a great way to conduct exploratory research before designs are solidified and you are still trying to figure out what questions you want to ask or what direction you will go with your product. However, interviews, like all qualitative research, can be time-consuming and therefore often more expensive to conduct.  An exploratory, interview study can also be followed-up with a confirmatory survey of more users.

My contribution - I created the interview and testing protocol, created the screener, recruited participants locally, booked space for testing, created materials for card sorts, created child and parent questionnaires, researched competitive products, conducted qualitative analysis of Amazon reviews on competitive products, personally conducted all interviews in-person, created video clips of important data points and participant reactions, summarized results, created a report detailing important findings, insights and suggestions for future investigation.

Auto Accessory
Truck Headlight

What type of consumer is most likely to purchase this type of accessory and how much are they willing to pay?


Overview - The product development team at a small automobile accessory company wanted to quickly know if a product concept was viable for a specific user set.

Collaborations - Project managers, designer, CEO of start-up/Kick-starter, outside research agency

Research methods - Survey


A survey can be a good choice for exploratory research when you need a quick answer from a lot of potential users.  It's best when you have more details about your product and have discrete answers to choose between. Once you have your quick responses, a survey can be followed-up with an some in-depth interviews of users to more deeply probe any questions that surfaced during the survey.

Method consideration/description - For this study, the client wanted very quick feedback from potential users.  I surveyed more than 400 potential users over 2 different surveys.  Questions were created to collect both quantitative and qualitative data due to limited time. 

My contribution - For the first survey, I created the survey and survey screener with input from the product manager/designer/CEO, piloted the survey with, then ran the survey with participants.  I also analyzed survey responses for correlations and crosstabs to provide a deeper understanding of segmentation.  I provided feedback for further investigation and a follow-up survey.  For the second survey, I worked with an outside agency who had expertise in the automotive industry to prepare and run the survey. 

Results - The results of this survey were used to guide pricing and features for the product as well as gauge interest in the product before going to production.  Results also helped define and understand concerns with driving in specialized conditions to help focus messaging.

Food Flavors
Home Milk Delivery

What makes a food taste good?


Overview - A consultancy representing a consumer foods company wanted to explore flavors for a new product

Collaborations - Research consultant from the agency representing food developer

Research method - Multi-dimensional scaling (MDS) card sort/questionnaire. 


MDS is beneficial when you have a set of products and you want to understand if users or consumers view them as similar or dissimilar based on a specific characteristic.  For example, you may want people to group drinks by how tasty they are.  However, what makes them tasty to people may also be a mystery.  MDS can help you uncover underlying attributes that are used by consumers to make decisions even if they, themselves, don't realize the attribute contributes to their like or dislike of a product.

My contribution - I created the questions and materials for MDS study.  This included gathering pictures and descriptions of all food items to be rated and tested.  I programmed the questionnaire on the survey platform, created rating scales as well as open-ended, follow-up questions for a deeper understanding of quantitative results. I used a panel of participants provided by my client to run the study.  Once the study was complete, I analyzed the data in SPSS using MDS and created a visualization of the tested products as well as an analysis of the underlying attributes that contributed to consumers liking or disliking the taste of various foods.  I presented my findings in a report and suggested that for next steps, the company consider running the same study but in-person and directly after participants had tasted the products so that the flavors were more recent and could be described in more detail. Also, originally attributes were provided from the client without testing.  In the future, attributes should be collected through user interviews or surveys about the product.