What Design Research is, and How it Can Benefit your Company

Created November 30, 2018 The Business Value of Design

Most companies will agree that discovering what their market needs, is one of the most important factors they must consider in building growth strategies.  

Most businesses already use Market research, but there’s another kind of research method used by the likes of Pepsi Global, Google, Apple, to mention a few, to innovate and dominate their markets. It’s Design research. 

What is Design research and how is it different from Market research? More importantly, how can it benefit your business?

I will answer these questions in this post. 

Simply put, Design research is process of determining what your customer needs by using human-centred methods that seek to dig up customer behavioural patterns, emotional drivers. While Market research is quantitative, using logic, and statistics, Design research is qualitative, using empathy to understand emotions, thoughts and behaviours.

Essentially, both research methods are very helpful in their own unique ways, but use different methodologies to uncover valuable insights for business.

Design research when combined with Market research is incredibly powerful. 

The main way Design research benefits businesses is by helping to discover problems that customers may be experiencing, sometimes in using your product or service that you wouldn’t have known otherwise, or that they might not even know about. Through observation, shadowing (a research methodology where the researcher follows the customer in their native environment to observe them as they use a product or service in aims of gaining hidden insights), and conversation-like interviews, customer behaviour patterns can be determined, and more importantly the reason why they behave in those ways. Market research uses data to determine profit-making potential in areas such as market size, Design research determines the why behind consumer behaviours, helping you better create products and communication that addresses their needs and resonates with them on a deeper level becuase of that. Combining these 2 methods is truly invaluable.

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Design Research combined with Market Research 

1. Market research focuses on finding out what consumers want and then aims to provide it, however when combined with Design research, brands are able to uncover the emotions that drive consumer behaviour. This is very valuable as it reveals to brands the core drivers of customer patterns and helps them understand things like why consumers gravitate towards certain solutions as opposed to others.  

Design research answers the question -----"What makes a happier and more satisfied customer"

2. It helps businesses cease less profitable activities, such as creating wrong products or services that don’t quite meet the market’s needs. It affords brands with the opportunity to balance organizational needs with real-world and actionable insights that considers the needs and desires of customers.

3. It brings consumers into the product and service creation process early, so that they can inform the process, resulting in happier consumers.

4. Market research typically relies on theoretical and reported data, which has its restrictions and is not very useful in identifying innovation opportunities. However, when combined with Design research, it encourages empathy (a proven method for creating innovative solutions) for your customers as you study them, this, in turn, creates a deeper connection with your customers. 

See also: How PepsiCo Improved Their Chips Packaging Using Design

Both Market research and Design research use data to draw better conclusions.  When used together, they minimize business risks and provide a clear framework for brands to create products and services that are successful in the market.

You probably already know and use Market research, however, if you interested in knowing more about using Design research to better understand customers, get in touch with us.

  • DODO admin



    Susan is an avid lover of design. When she’s not working, you can find her reading, eating or admiring anything that’s a combination of aesthetics and functionality done right.

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