There's been a meme running around the web about "design research" the past couple of days. One group that does this really well is Continuum. An east coast-based design consultancy.
They have put up an interesting marketing video about their process.
Special thanks to Josh Blake for sending this vid over.
It seems like there are two main reasons for hiring out this sort of work:
1. The client sees a business segment they can exploit and wants some political justification for it.
2. The client has a cashcow product or other asset that is getting slammed and they need a new way grow margin on their product, either through features or repositioning.
The output of these studies seems like it could be really valuable, but is design research a viable business in this economy? What do you think?