June 25, 2015 Kelley Styring

The Value of Being There: Rapid Iteration

 Note: This is the last in a series of six posts.  They originally appeared as one article in the December 2014 issue of Quirk’s Marketing Research Review under the title: “The Value of Being There:  Five ways to Breathe New Life into Qualitative Research.” 

Rapid Iteration is an ideal method for food development.

Rapid Iteration is a fantastic way to product optimal products with consumer interaction and input in a short period of time.

Rapid Iteration provides consumers with the opportunity to interact directly with prototypes, providing input on them and displaying behaviors directly to designers and developers. The prototypes are then revised and again exposed to consumers, building strong ideas in succession.

This method has been ideal for food and beverage development, package design and graphics, and package bundling versions (such as Club packs.) Now, with the accessibility of 3D printing, even parts of or perhaps entire products themselves can be iterated and refined this way.

I’ve found that Rapid Iteration works best when the professional team has a workshop available to actually make the prototypes.

For example, if you were working with a quick serve restaurant chain on a new type of sandwich, you could enlist a local store to make the samples.  You could then provide real-time input into the creation of the sandwich as interviews occurred (“increase the spice in the sauce, take out the onion, add bacon”) and deliver revised piping hot samples, fresh from the oven, for the participants to taste at exactly the right time in the interview.

Rapid Iteration is a fantastic way to produce optimal products with consumer interaction and input in a very short period of time. I’ve been using this process with concepts for many years – write, listen, rewrite.  Now it’s possible to iterate products the same way. 3D printing will only open the doors wider to integrated behavior-based learning into the product refinement process.

By incorporating the consumer into an active, behavior-based process; by gaining their trust and honoring their input; we can continue to discover the insights that inspire innovators to create new, relevant, exciting products for us to enjoy.  And isn’t that what it’s all about?

For other techniques that make the most of in-person research, check out these other posts:


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