The Market Research Project employs a three phase methodology. In Phase I (Research) data is gathered using primary and secondary market research practices. In Phase II (Compilation) market research is compiled into "industry profiles." Profiles are evaluated by consumers and content experts and edited to ensure that they are accessible, well organized, complete and accurate. In Phase III (Testing) industry profiles are disseminated to experts in the private (manufacturers from corresponding industry segment), and public (federal agencies and universities) sectors. Surveys determine profile quality and completeness and the impact of each profile in the public and private sector.
Phase I: Research Phase
Each IP will incorporate primary and secondary market data. Primary market data is gathered directly from an information source - manufacturers, distributors, service personnel, customers, and others stakeholders. Our primary market data will be gathered through consumer panels and expert interviews with manufacturers and research scientists. Primary market research will be used to: identify unmet consumer needs (i.e. not adequately met by other products or accommodations), establish the criticality of unmet consumer needs, identify likely customers, the strengths and weaknesses of current products, and needed products and technologies.
It is often quite challenging to conduct market research involving persons with disabilities because of their small numbers, geographic dispersion, and disability related barriers (e.g. mobility, cognition, communication, and age-related functional limitations). The T2RERC will work with the Western New York Independent Living Project (WNYILP), a long-term partner of the T2RERC, to carry out consumer recruitment and run the panel sessions at their community-based facilities. The WNYILP maintains a large, heterogeneous database of consumers from the Western New York area and is prepared to work with our RERC partners, the National Network of Independent Living Centers, and consumer advocacy organizations (local or national) to gain access to critical disability populations. Purposive sampling will be employed for recruitment to address issues of small numbers, dispersed distributions, and disability-related barriers. Persons who are aging with a disability or are aging into disability have unique challenges such as multiple impairments, limited financial resources, and uneasiness with new technology. The T2RERC will consult with Dr. Machiko Tomita, an expert on aging and assistive technology interventions, for guidance on panel recruitment.
The T2RERC and WNYILP will jointly script and conduct panels. Results will be captured with audio- and video- taping. Accommodations will be made to ensure that all people with disabilities can participate fully. The T2RERC and WNYILP have four experienced moderators available to lead these groups. Participant comments will be aggregated and participant confidentiality protected. Consumer panels will identify unmet needs, the criticality of unmet needs, strengths and weaknesses of competing products, and needed products and technologies.
Expert interviews will be carried out for each IP involving 8-10 research scientists and 8-10 manufacturers . Information from these interviews will be aggregated and proprietary information protected. Interviews will validate consumer needs (typically more broadly and less personally than through consumer panels) and identify business interests; strengths and weaknesses of competing products; requirements for needed technology; and market trends.
Secondary market data is obtained through an analysis of pre-existing sources including: trade publications; trade shows (participants, products); government reports and databases; research publications; and a manufacturer's product literature. Secondary market research is used to determine markets (e.g. size, segments, and segment definitions), manufacturers (e.g. contact information, products, market share, and target markets), technologies (e.g. features, functions, and performance of products), funding (e.g. out of pocket, private insurance, and third party payment); distribution (Internet marketing, wholesale distributors, and mail catalogs); legislation, advocacy groups, trade shows, industry associations and other information. The T2RERC will consult with Dr. Machiko Tomita for guidance on age-related market issues.
Phase II: Compilation
Research findings will be compiled, evaluated and revised by T2RERC staff. Five external content experts (industry, clinical, legislation) will be recruited to review each IP. Reviewers for each IP will include include "expert consumers" (content experts who also have relevant disabilities). Each IP draft will be available to reviewers in their preferred accessible format. The IP draft will be revised to address deficiencies in quality, content, thoroughness, ease of use and accessibility; and re-evaluated by content experts to ensure that deficiencies have been addressed. Final revisions will be completed and the final IP compiled.
Phase III: Testing
A sampling matrix will be developed and a minimum of twenty AT manufacturers recruited. A survey instrument will be constructed and validated by T2RERC staff. An online version of this survey will be created using Creative Research Systems Survey System Software version 8.1. The online survey will meet the WCAG 1.0 Triple A standard and will be further evaluated to ensure ease of use by people with visual and physical disabilities. An interview script will be developed for use during manufacturer contacts. Manufacturer responses to open-ended interview questions will augment quantitative data obtained through the survey.
Participating manufacturers will be given an Industry Profile available in hard copy (standard print, large print, or Braille) or on compact disc (Word, pdf). Manufacturers will be contacted at one, three and six months after receiving the profile, interviewed and asked to complete the survey. Manufacturers who have not completed the survey within one week following this interview will be recontacted to ensure survey completion. Results will be analyzed following completion of the interview and survey cycle to determine the impact of market research on participating assistive technology manufacturers.
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