Circle is an expert in B2B new product development (NPD) research. Through a programme of primary research, we’ll help you to enhance your current product or service portfolio and successfully bring new ideas to market by:

Based on these insights we’ll then make clear recommendations on how to optimise the new product or service itself and the associated pricing and launch strategy.

Over the last decade, we’ve supported dozens of world-leading B2B brands in their new product and service development activity. Brands like Mastercard, Vodafone, Merck and FTSE.  We couple this extensive experience with an intimate understanding of the product development process and a suite of smart techniques which probe far beyond the superficial.

The result is research which makes a real difference.

Guiding principles

Based on our extensive experience and the self-funded research undertaken by our CircleLabs™ team, we’ve developed a set of guiding principles which shape (but never constrain) our approach to product and service development research. These principles are born from eight key observations:

1. Most, but not all, needs are met in some way at the moment. This is the status quo – the outcomes achieved through current solutions and the experience of doing so – and it’s the benchmark you’re innovating from.

2. Successful new products and services move beyond the status quo. If a need is completely unmet at present, they meet it. And if the need is met but imperfectly, they create better outcomes and/or a better experience. This is the area of opportunity and it’s the space you’re aiming to capture.

3. To innovate effectively, the 4I process should be followed. The first step is an insight – creating a deep understanding of the user’s fundamental goals, the benefits they seek, the extent to which current solutions get them to where they want to be and any pain points they experience along the way. This understanding will form the basis of a market-led approach to innovation and free you from thinking within the confines of current solutions.

4. Having understood what a new solution needs to achieve, the next step is to innovate. Here you can either use the insights gathered to fuel internal thinking on potential solutions or you can collaborate with customers to generate ideas. The latter approach is highly valuable as it gives you access to a deep pool of expertise. After all, the customer has significant experience of using existing products, possibly has workarounds they’ve created themselves and will no doubt have ideas about the ideal solution.

5. Armed with one or more concepts, these then need to be evaluated – do they represent an enhancement over current solutions and could they be improved even further? The customer is once again the best guide here. Share the concepts with them, get feedback, revise the concept in light of this, get more feedback, and so on until you’ve taken it as far as possible. This collaborative approach will lead to much greater innovation and ensure that it’s always in-line with the market’s needs.

6. Not only does an innovation need to fill a gap in the market, it needs to represent an attractive commercial proposition to your organisation. The final stage of the 4I process, internalisation, involves creating a business case for the new product or service. What strategic benefits are there in going to market and based on forecasts of demand, the intended price point and the cost base, how much profit will be made? This final check ensures that innovation is translated into commercial success.

7. A product or service developed using the 4I process has the potential to capture an area of opportunity and reach your commercial goals. However, a good product or service isn’t enough. To achieve its full potential it needs to be priced optimally and taken to market with a carefully developed sales & marketing strategy. Doing so will ensure that adoption rates are maximised.

8. As market needs, technology and competitor activity evolves, new areas of opportunity open up. This means that product innovation needs to be an ongoing process.

B2B new product development (NPD) research

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A selection of our case studies

We helped recruitment agency Randstad to identify gaps in their service offering and launch a refreshed portfolio.

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The result was an entirely new service line, 77% increase in market share and 56% growth in client numbers.

We mapped the buying journey for electrical distributor REXEL and identified a compelling, differentiated proposition.

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The result is a trajectory which will see REXEL triple multi-channel transactions by 2020.

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