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Discovery Research is Product Management

We’re making things for our users, but they can change us in the process.

Alanna Ford, Innovation Product Manager at AARP, shares how she conducts user research to discover and validate new product concepts.


AARP has 38 million members, and 10 thousand people turn 65 each and every day. The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that the GDP of the segment of people in the US over 50 years old, it would be the third largest economy in the world. When you think about AARP, however, you probably don’t think about digital products.

Alanna and her team are committed to reaching the next generation of senior citizens, broadening the company’s social impact and generating revenue by building new digital products. She leads a vertical of new products at The Hatchery, AARP’s innovation lab.

Alanna began with a blank canvas: no specs, no ideas, no team, nothing! She had to discover a need in the market and test out new products that could solve it.

After reviewing market research studies that her company had conducted previously, Alanna decided to focus on segments of women in their 50s and 60s. She then invited women in this age group into the lab to gain a deep understanding of their needs and ideate new concepts with them.

While Alanna’s approach to conducting discovery research, ideating, and refining ideas was incredibly robust and multi-faceted, Alanna stresses the importance of finding a balance between using data and gut instinct.

Ultimately, Alanna and her team turned that blank canvas into a successful beta launch of a startup called Confetti, where she’s currently Product Owner.

You’ll learn a lot from this episode about user research, ideation, and corporate innovation.

Here are the highlights:

Alanna Ford

Innovation Product Manager at AARP

Alanna’s Recommended Resources on Discovery Research

What Alanna is Reading To Right Now

Alanna’s Favorite New Product Outside of Work

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