Bring The Start-up Mindset to Your Research

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Last week I had intense time working with start-ups on how to achieve a step-change in their business via in-depth consumer understanding.

First, I joined ESOMAR Research Rally for the 3rd time this year, but this time in a new role – as a research mentor that brought me a chance to work with 4 amazing start-ups. Second, I had a great privilege to become a part of the Mentors Community at Startupbootcamp, where we had a set of inspirational brainstorming about the importance of consumer understanding for the start-ups success.

My overall impression that comes from these sessions – start-ups come quite often from the own entrepreneur’s experience and/or experience of the closest environment that at the end of the day doesn’t mean that the product will be viable.

That’s why I’ve decided to share today 4 following steps or areas of research which are crucial for start-ups as well as insights teams in bigger organizations.


Fast speed and low (or absence) research budget forces start-ups as well as big corporations to focus more and more on the secondary data sources that have a power of the primary research. In the era of ZMOT, Digital communications and e-commerce, such data sources as Google Consumer Barometer and Facebook IQ bring incredible value for start-ups. It allows companies to better understand the target consumer and their behavior in digital. Afterwards, it can become also helpful to develop a communication campaign.


Although researchers continue to explore the value of Big Data and analytics, ethnography still plays an important role in understanding consumers and their needs. Researchers in different environment – from big corporations to start-ups continue benefiting from various types of ethnographic studies. Thus, as I outlined in one of my previous posts (ESOMAR World Congress 2017 – Key Trends in Marketing Research) insights professionals working in large companies actively use ethnographic research for new product development and building overall corporate consumer centricity. Modern technologies allow companies to develop ethnographic studies in a more agile way. For instance, a solution that I’ve developed to build consumer empathy within an organization can be highly beneficial for the needs of the start-ups (more details in the post: “Transform your Consumer Empathy with the Use of Mobile“).


After start-ups define their value proposition, it’s important to test different concepts of the product or service offering. As marketers and research professionals continue facing a big challenge of claimed data, there is an available solution that can help to address it – making an auction for the concept(s). In that case consumers will vote by their money, not just saying what they think or tick the box in the questionnaire.

We discussed this solution in one of the previous video interviews (see the post for the more details: “Getting consumer insights as real as possible“).

During the Research Rally in Amsterdam we managed to conduct a real life auctions that allowed start-ups to receive a consumers feedback on the product and price that they are ready to pay for it.


Product prototyping is an important part of a start-up’s life. However, it’s very important to receive a consumers feedback on the product and it’s features before the product launch. One of the most popular way nowadays in this area is experiments (e.g. A/B testing). The biggest value of this research lies in the understanding of the real consumer behavior and product use. As a result, it allows to identify the most appealing product characteristics and receive a  feedback on the further potential product improvements.


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