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Company and Industry Research: Honors Project Fall 2018

Recommended Research Process for the Honors Project

Major Project Guidelines:

  • This is not a marketing campaign type project
  • The project IS to create a new product and/or service that leverages the company's assets
  • Think outside the box of the company's current product lines, extensions, or traditions
  • Draw upon the company’s strengths (products, brand, properties, expertise)
  • The new product/service should produce a new revenue stream
  • Identify stakeholders of the ecosystem within which the company operates
    • narrow to one type of customer/client/stakeholder (consumer); focus the design concept around this cohort
    • apply user-centered research, including fieldwork (interviews, observation, your own personal experiences) to build empathy and identify needs and jobs-to-be-done
  • Validate your assumptions: submit your concept to your target user (build, prototype with users, get feedback, refine)

Projects will articulate and deliver:

  • Definition of the problem that focuses on a specific challenge you want to solve from a customer-centered lens
  • Target users/clientele/consumers:
    • select a set of users for whom you want to solve the challenge
    • develop personas that articulate who your users are
  • User needs:
    • engage in contextual research including observation, interviews, etc.
    • show evidence to identify users’ Jobs to Be Done
    • Answer: what are they truly trying to achieve and how is the old solution working or not working for them?
  • The market for the new product and/or service as indicted by the potential clientele/consumer focus, including potential market size; show calculations, data sources, etc. 
  • Solution areas:
    • select the most important and pressing Jobs to Be Done and propose potential new solutions for those jobs
    • select one solution using some level of criteria defined by your team
  • A detailed service design blueprint:
    • service description or product diagram that depicts the concept and how it is used, as well as showing/demonstrating any prototypes built
  • Basic economics of the business model:
    • articulate how value will be captured from the proposed product or service
    • provide data that supports:
      • customer needs (qualitative)
      • market assumptions (quantitative)

Recommended Library Resources for the Project:

First, be certain to consult all of the links in the project Toolbox, as well the Food for Thought links!

Second, this project requires a great deal of analytical and critical thinking. To determine what your new product and/or service might be you will need to view the world from a consumer perspective. You will do this drawing upon both, your own personal experience, and what market research has found, but first you should gain a thorough understanding of the company by utilizing company reports, competitor lists, company financials, 10K filings (annual reports), industry forecasts, etc.

Company and Competitor Information can be found here:

You can investigate market research on various consumer groups or cohorts, such as Baby Boomers, Millennials, Generation X, and others, and the products they use in the following library resources. Use keywords that describe the target user/consumer group you are considering, as well as keywords that describe the potential product and/or service you are envisioning. Locate full-text articles in Business Source Complete; locate market research reports containing both, qualitative and quantitative information, in Mintel and Statista.

Market Research Information can be found here:

Mintel contains specialized market research reports on consumers and products/services. Try various keywords and evaluate the reports; gain ideas from what you read.

Statista allows you to search and locate data on a variety of consumer and product/service information. It also contains company and industry dossiers, which aggregate key data pertinent to market research.

Once you have selected your target group and product and/or service, investigate the broader industry within which that product and/or service resides.

Industry Analysis and Reports can be found here: