Markets are changing faster than ever before. Focus market research and other qualitative methods, meanwhile, are adjusting to keep pace with sentiments and interests. Far from just a new means to conduct research, online methods are also essential for delivering insight before it becomes outdated or irrelevant. Finding and tracking a minimally viable audience, or core customer group, is one such strategy that streamlines research while enhancing product design.  

New Millennium, Old Information Gaps

Like the markets they cater to, products cycles are becoming perpetually shorter. Resulting from competitiveness as much customer demand, the pressure to condense design elements and guess customer sentiment is enormous. All too often developers and managers lose any sense of their market or potential markets, and instead look to the product before the customer. Quite understandable, as most organizations lacked a viable alternative until recently.

Qualitative methods are usually kept to initial design phases. Anything more is unfeasible: traditional methodology often requires months of scheduling and other logistics. True-to-life video streaming technology is largely responsible for qualitative research’s advancement onto the web. Researchers, after all, considers participants’ emotives as well as their verbal responses. Focus groups, online or off, must include such detail for maximum insight. Through HD-streaming technology, researchers can better source participants while also providing on-demand insight to developers. While faster and more convenient, however, research must remain organized and on-focus.

Minimally Viable Audiences: Essential for Lean Methods  

Based around the Lean approach made popular by Eric Ries, the minimally viable audience, or MVA, is the essential counterpart to a minimally viable product, or MVP. A base product to build on, an MVP develops and changes according to customer feedback. Establishing parameters for an MVA allows researchers to decide which feedback is most pertinent. Likewise, market expansions often start from the MVA.

MVAs are Distinct from Target Concepts or Personas

While very similar to the concepts in target marketing, MVAs are integrally different and far more worthwhile. User personas and other concepts can be updated, sure, but they are still static examples drawing from demography. MVAs, meanwhile, are a pool of actual or prospective customers offering their personal opinions. These can cover any number of specificities, elements that target concepts can overlook. Developers receiving actual feedback is far more useful, and valid, than designing around concepts alone. Not that target concepts are antiquated: they often provide the continuity that a developing MVA lacks.

On-Demand Qual: New Possibilities for MVAs

Copyblogger and similar online organizations directly link MVAs with their success. Discussion boards and other written communication offer a wealth of qualitative insight, and both large and small organizations find success mining or segmenting forums. While valuable, such insight only informs so much. Further, not all services have a customer base that typically use forums or comment sections.
On-demand, online qual enables organizations to evaluate their customers’ and prospects’ opinions far quicker, and in far more detail. Veracity is of prime importance of all market research, focus groups or otherwise. Sourcing, questions, and other facets of a study can make all the difference. Learn how simplifies the process without skimping on detail. Schedule our demo today!

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