It’s no secret that brands are compelled to become more consumer-centric in the digital-driven post-COVID age, but new research from agile research tech company Feedback Loop reveals that many brands are relying on valuable consumer input to make decisions about whether to even move forward with product development.
According to the firm’s seventh annual Product Management Insights Report, most brands are continuously running critical product decisions by groups of hundreds or thousands of consumers before making decisions to forward, iterate, or even scrap products completely.
The new report shows the main responsibilities of product managers, the challenges they’re facing in their roles and their key objectives and goals for 2021.
The research revealed, among other things, that over the past year brands have relied on more frequent communication with their customers to help chart their courses, and product managers found they had more ways at their disposal to do so more easily.
Key findings include:
The number of brands that spend the “perfect amount of time” speaking with customers has more than tripled over the past year
Nearly half (47 percent) of product managers said they’re spending the perfect amount of time talking to customers in 2021, compared to 11 percent of product managers reporting the same in 2020.
The responsibilities of product managers have shifted to focus on the consumer
User/consumer research was named by 51 percent of product managers as their main responsibility, bringing it to the top of the list of responsibilities. This is a shift from 2020, when product strategy and setting (84 percent) and the product roadmap (83 percent) were named to the top of the list.
Product managers are spending more time studying consumers, but less time on designing the research and generating feedback themselves
Product managers are spending more time every day on user/consumer research (up 17% YoY) and product design (up 7 percent YoY). They’re increasingly looking to tools to manage research design and generating feedback, with product managers reporting less time spent designing quarterly research studies/tests (down 19 percent YoY) and recruiting users/consumers to generate feedback (down 48 percent YoY).
The lack of internal research expertise is preventing time spent on research
The top missing factor preventing product managers from spending more on research was internal research expertise (29 percent). Other missing factors include lack of budget (22 percent) and results taking too long to receive (19 percent).
“Successful brands aren’t just customer-centric anymore, they’re customer-led,” said Rob Holland, CEO at Feedback Loop, in a news release. “We’re seeing a new trend where brands are proactively establishing de-facto boards of consumers to evaluate their decisions in real time. Only through this continuous conversation with consumers can brands align products and services to their needs and wants.”
Most significant non-pandemic challenges:
Feedback Loop will be hosting a webinar with Anuraag Verma, Host of This is Product Management and Ben Wilson, COO at Olea Edge Analytics on Thursday, May 20, at 1pm ET to discuss the report’s key findings. Register to attend here.
This report is based on survey responses from over 500 product management professionals over a five-week period between January and February 2021.