Case Study

Product Testing for a Consumer Electronics Technology Brand


How does a forward-thinking company (eager to optimize their product design) get a handle on consumer needs— especially if they typically have very little, if any, interaction with consumers after the point of purchase?

A well-known consumer electronics brand approached C+R to help understand how consumers adapt to using a new smartphone – from ordering the phone online to long-term use.


Eager to Meet Consumers’ Needs (but Uncertain What Those Needs Are)

Our client, a leading consumer electronics brand, wanted to optimize the design and functionality of two of their newly released smartphones to better meet consumers’ needs. But they weren’t sure what those needs were.

Historically, the brand had struggled to engage consumers after purchase—especially as time elapsed after purchase—so they were uncertain how to learn about smartphone set-up, orientation, and long-term usage pain-points and needs.

C+R was tasked with creating a flexible research solution to help our client “immerse” in their users’ smartphone experiences. The client wanted both in-the-moment and longitudinal data to help them identify needs, desires, and pain points, and ultimately, optimize the design and functionality of their devices.


A Flexible Research Solution to Meet Short-Term and Long-Term Needs

C+R created an online communi-panel of 120 consumers to serve as “advisors” to our client over an initial 6-month period, which was later extended for an additional 6-months. We recruited participant advisors in two major markets where the client’s UX team was based. All participants were ready to purchase a new smartphone.

To establish context, advisors were asked to describe their lives before purchasing their new smartphone, highlighting the things they liked and disliked about their current phone along with expectations for their new smartphone.

Next, we provided smartphones to participant advisors and asked them to document their experience with the device. One device was shipped to participants. For the other device, to help us understand online ordering and customization experiences, advisors were tasked with obtaining the phone themselves.

Once new smartphones were delivered, the advisors captured their unboxing process and initial set up and usage. The goal was to identify what worked well, what participants were most excited about, and what needed further optimization.

Once their phones were set up and in use, advisors joined an open forum to share their experiences in the moment, including any challenges they encountered and the things that especially delighted them about their new phone. C+R archived and tagged these challenges and delighters in a live document shared with the engineering team to serve as a task list for optimizations. 

Advisors remained accessible for other projects throughout the life of the community, enabling C+R’s team to be extremely agile: we tapped into the panel for digital ethnography-style projects (to help our client understand consumers’ daily lives) and in-person usability studies.

The result

A New Understanding of Consumer Needs

By creating a long-term online communi-panel, our client had continuous access to their smartphone users. We facilitated targeted projects both in-person and online to explore users’ reactions to specific topics ranging from design exploration to usability testing.

In addition, we created a feedback loop for the client’s engineering team to help them understand and respond to consumers’ frustrations. The team was able to understand consumers’ product usage in the real world – how the functionality supported or failed their needs.  

Ultimately, by understanding their users’ natural experiences with the smartphones over time, our client was able to optimize the design and functionality of their devices to better meet consumers’ short and long-term needs.  

Reflecting on the project, our client wrote the following recommendation to a colleague: “C+R Research has been an excellent partner to [Brand] in the concept, creation, launch and management of our [Panel]. [Panel] has been critical to our product research over the last 12 months and this would not have been possible without the team at C+R. What I appreciate most about working with C+R was the close collaboration and their expertise in panel management, specifically in keeping the panel engaged and responsive. In addition, the C+R team’s responsiveness was top notch. There was never a question that went unanswered or a need unmet throughout the duration of the project. This was our first panel experience, and I could not imagine a better outcome. We look forward to working with C+R Research again in the future.”

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