Generative research, often known as exploratory research, enables brands to go beyond understanding consumer needs. But what sets it apart?
For example, you are part of a product team at a leading tech company that aims to launch a new fitness app. To develop a fitness app that genuinely resonates with this audience, you must understand their unique demands, preferences, and challenges.
Conducting generative research, your team conducts in-depth interviews with potential users, seeking to crack the underlying motivations behind their fitness routines, which will help you organize co-creation sessions involving potential users in the app's early design stages. The app's customization features, social aspect, and real-time tracking capabilities align perfectly with your users' preferences, setting it apart from competitors in the market.
The result? A fitness app that resonates with users gains a loyal following and becomes a staple in the lives of health-conscious individuals. By demystifying generative research and leveraging its insights, your team has unlocked the secret to creating a successful, customer-centric product.
Compared to conventional research methods, it paves the way for creativity and open-ended analysis. Participants are encouraged to speak freely, helping you- 1) gather valuable and actionable insights, 2) better understand the consumers’ behavior and preferences, 3) identify unmet desires, and4) foster innovation and growth.
This article will cover how you can demystify generative research and leverage its power to unlock limitless possibilities. So, let’s dive in!
What is Generative Research?
This research method aims to "generate" a thorough understanding of people's motives, problems, behaviors, and other factors. Generative research, sometimes called exploratory or discovery research, aims to assist in identifying a problem statement, framing the problem to be solved, and gathering sufficient data to enable informed decision-making.
Why is Generative Research Important?
Without an in-depth understanding of your consumer, creating any campaign or product is like shooting darts in the dark. You have to rely heavily on your gut instinct to drive success. This, in turn, makes you vulnerable to failure and misfires.
An easy solution to this problem is generative research. It helps you gather deep human insights and clearly defines the problems that must be rectified. You and your team can focus on optimizing your product and services and delivering real value to your consumers.
Comparison with OtherResearch Methods
# Difference between Generative Research and Formative Research
Generative research acts as the foundation by identifying gaps and problems and enabling teams to make informed decisions. Whereas, formative research helps optimize and solve the identified gaps and problems, ensuring that the product or service aligns with the consumers’ needs, preferences and expectations.
# Difference between Generative Research and Evaluative Research
The main difference between the two is that generative research is used in the early stages of a study when there is insufficient data on consumer preferences and behavior. Once the concept is ready to validate the strategy’s effectiveness, evaluation research is used.
Types of Generative Research
Generative research is highly versatile and can be conducted in multiple ways. Some of which are-
1. Focus Groups
Focus groups are in-person or virtual meetings, where a set of specifically selected respondents are invited to discuss a topic.
These meetings help you gather actionable feedback and brainstorm ideas that will create value in the long term.
Pro Tip: A great way to get the most out focus group discussions is to ask open-ended questions.
2. Literature Review
This entails going through previously published data and findings on a particular topic. This saves you the hassle of conducting primary research.
Best for: This is most useful for teams who have not yet defined their user base.
3. User Interviews
Conversing with consumers one-on-one is one of the best ways to get valuable feedback. It also fosters building positive relationships and trust with your customers.
Pro Tip: Ask open-ended questions and try to identify their pain points.
4. Field Studies and Observations
You need to conduct a field study to understand how your consumers interact with your product or service. The observations help you get insights that can help you optimize and personalize the customer experience to best fit their needs.
Pro Tip: If you are where your consumers are, keep an open mind about their feedback.
5. Diary Studies
In this type of generative research, the respondents in your study keep a log of their interactions with your product or service.
By tracking how their behavior changes over time, you get to identify bottlenecks and gaps and address them over time.
Pro Tip: Your respondents are also humans, they can forget to keep a track every once in a while. Ensure you contact them periodically to remind them about the study and to log their experience.
How to Conduct Generative Research
Irrespective of the research type, these simple-to-follow steps will be the guiding light in your research journey.
Step 1: Define the Research Objectives
Generative research is all about exploring and identifying unknown bottlenecks and gaps. This makes it difficult to start with a clear problem.Instead, note the objectives you want to achieve through your study.
· Discover the consumer’s growing need
· Identify the change in their lifestyles
· Gather information about their pain points, etc.
Step 2: Formulate a Research Plan
You may be tempted to go after multiple objectives or achieve all of them simultaneously. But, the best way to go forward is by prioritizing the objective you want to achieve and formulating a plan to stay on track.
Step 3: Conduct the ResearchStudy
If you truly want to decode the nitty-gritty of each problem, conducting research using a research platform could be your best solution.
Implement your research plan agilely and continuously optimize it along the way, for best results.
Step 4: Analyze the Research Data
Once you are done conducting your research, compile all the data in a single research repository to gather insights.
Try to get answers to questions like –
· “What are gaps highlighted by the research?”
· “How are these affecting my consumers?”
· “How can our brand solve these problems?”
· “How are our competitors solving these problems?”
Step 5: Implement the Research Findings
Brands often do not implement data and insights because they run out of time or don’t trust the data. But, no effort ever goes to waste. By applying research findings, you can be confident that you are putting your best foot forward.
Getting Started with Generative Research
Generative research is a versatile research method. It is easy and simple to conduct and adopt in your research process. But, generative research is only one part of the puzzle. You need to use other research methods as and when required to achieve your desired goals.
The best approach for this is by using it as a second milestone in your research journey. The other milestones are-
Generative Research is a simple and effective way to understand your consumer better. It can help brands foster innovation and drive brand loyalty if done correctly. You can analyze underlying motivations, preferences, behaviors and gather actionable insights. These insights can help you and your team to make informed decisions and shape the future of the brand’s offerings with clarity and confidence.