As a digital producer, I would say that 35% of my job consists of marketing research and studying the market. Yup, true story, figuring out what people want is hard work and even harder when you're trying to make a product, service, or experience for an audience that isn't you. Thankfully, it's not impossible and remarkably, there are a suite of tools you can use to actually create a process and eliminate intuition or "gut instinct". For me, it all stars with these 5 initial ways to conduct research:

  1. Survey: Ask them directly in person or via snail mail, phone, e-mail or mobile phone.
  • Focus group: Ask them via a proxy moderator. This help eliminate any bias and gives you flexibilty to conduct the research in other markets (NY, SF, Chicago, Miami) without having to "know the market".

  • Ethnographic study: Watch and learn.

  • Case study: Learn what others have done

  • Field test: Learn by putting your product, service, or idea out there into the world and getting actual market feedback.

Other Resources

  • USC Master of Communication Management - If you have the technical chops to make a website or app but aren't sure what people want, or want to learn how to consistently deliver products to different types of people (age, gender, location, ethnicity, class), I highly suggest a degree in Communication Management.