It is common practice here at Big Village to combine multiple research methodologies to develop well-rounded insights for our clients. Recently we have noticed an increasing interest in adding technical information, such as patents, to the mix.
Reviewing patents around a set of competitors or in a specific product category, for example, can provide a look into what the future may hold.
According to Questel, “Patent searching is increasingly used to learn whether it makes sense to spend money on research in a specific technology, to learn who is entering or already in the space and what countries are seeing the most growth in patent applications.”i A review of patents filed in a specific product category could help identify new and potential competitors. As Questral noted,
“Most companies know inherently who their competitors are, it is their business to know. But what if the known competitor is different from a new entrant in the marketplace, perhaps a company that is competing for a technology space rather than a brand space? One of the best ways to learn that information is from reviewing technologies, often embedded in patents, that are relevant to yours.”ii
Examples of projects we have completed for our Accelerated Intelligence clients that incorporated rich technical findings:
- A monthly secondary research-based competitive intelligence monitor created for a large B2B supplier of business products and services included identification of patents and trademarks owned by their key competitors
- An ongoing monitor of published patents in a specific therapeutic area for a pharmaceutical/medical device client. Patents are classified by disease state and product category and delivered twice a week as an RSS feed.
- A category overview in the small consumer electronics space focusing on future product trends combined a robust search of the published literature and a subject matter expert interview to provide commentary regarding the potential of key technical innovations identified.
I would like to dive a bit deeper into an example that demonstrates the impact of such a combined methodology and calls out the value that technical insights offer.
A US-based CPG company was exploring ways to identify possible innovation and product development areas for one of their key segments. They wanted to utilize insights from a consumer perspective along with trends in recent technical innovations as an aid to uncover opportunities for new products. The final deliverable was to contain a matrix allowing our client to visually see these opportunities based on both consumer interest/needs and level of technological innovation.
A mixed methodology approach was employed by Big Village to achieve this including:
- Extensive secondary research focusing on consumer insights into the category
- A deep dive into social media to capture consumer commentary regarding likes/dislikes and overall opinions of key competitive brands
- An in-depth technical search to identify recently published patents
- A Digital Hive was conducted to gain key consumer input through targeted activities