Integrated consumer research
Why this is important
Poorly conducted research can strip the life out of your communications as it strives to satisfy a disparate group of stakeholders. On the contrary, great research uncovers the insights that drive differentiation and customer connection. Research can be even more powerful when it is integrated at key decision points of the campaign development journey.
Our approach to Integrated Research
Gaining an intimate understanding of your consumers, clients or decision-makers you seeing to influence requires establishing insights into:
- Audience existing attitudes and preferences
- Their challenges or desires
- Their level of commitment to satisfying their challenge or desire
- Their understanding of and interest in a concept, product or service
- Their capacity to access a product or service or adopt a new behaviour
- The language they use in discussing or thinking about the product, service or issue
- What constitutes a positive experience while engaging with the product, service or concept
- The common or emerging themes that emerge through the research process.
Note: It’s important to make the distinction at this point between market research and brand health tracking which calibrates a brands performance relative to its competitors or concept testing that, for us, informs and validates the creative process (that comes later).
Our aims in using market research are simple:
- To establish exactly who constitutes the audience (or market) for a product, service or concept
- Know what they currently think, feel and believe
- Understand their capacity to think differently
- Learn what it is that will change their mind or buying habit
Establish their propensity to adopt a product or service or adopt a new behaviour
The methodologies we recommend when conducting market research are based on the requirement, but will be one or more of the following:
In B2B settings, it’s rare that we use focus groups. We generally develop our hypotheses using depth interviews. We may then seek to validate the findings in quantitative research. This is because most business decision makers are reluctant to engage in focus groups and risk their competitors being able to assess their views.
Business to consumer
For B2C market research, we’ll often use focus groups to form our hypotheses then validate quantitatively, usually conducting quantitative research online.
A genuinely professional researcher will labour over a brief to ensure that what is being measured is actually instructive. This will involve them in making recommendations over:
- Research type (qualitative or quantitative)
- Research mode (online or in-person, groups or depth interviews)
They will go to extraordinary lengths to ensure the right stimulus is delivered and that research subjects are asked the right questions that lead to a definitive response to the right question.
Integrating research into the strategic and creative processes
The opportunity missed by many marketers when conducting market research is to integrate the process of discovery with the strategy and creative development processes. In most instances, the research covers the first three of our stated aims, but has no way of developing an understanding as to what would change a subjects mind and what the propensity for change might be if they were exposed to the right message (the underpinnings of any accurate business case).
At DPR&Co, we have developed a system of integrating strategy and ideation into the market research process.
An example of this approach can be found in our work with the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services in addressing the scourge of prescription drug abuse through the introduction of SafeScript.
With prescription drug abuse claiming more lives than road trauma, there was a clear need to introduce diversionary tactics to target users developing a dependency on the drugs they’d been prescribed to help solve a physical or mental health issue. Our job was to create awareness of a program that would make prescription histories for high risk drugs visible to doctors and pharmacists. Privacy and security were potentially contentious issues, as was the risk of further stigmatising an already ‘hidden’ problem. By bringing formative strategic messaging stimulus into the research environment, we were able to segment the audiences more accurately, understand the different needs of those audiences and narrow the aperture for message development. The resulting campaign may be seen here.
Avoiding the risk of poor research
It’s often been said that ‘research can get you any result you want’.
In our experience there is a gulf between quality research and what we’d call ‘ticking the boxes’.
Henry Ford was not a fan of market research. His famous quote “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses,’ was a pointed rejection of poorly conducted market research and a vindication for being able to provide stimulus as a means of establishing possible alternative products, services or concepts.
Poorly conducted focus groups are often swayed by dominant personalities. Without a competent methodology and a skilled moderator, the entire theme of the enquiry can be hijacked (see Leading the Witness – The Perils of Poor Market Research for a more detailed insight).
Closer to certainty
In tandem with deep market analysis, market research will help provide a complete picture of the market and consumer mindset at a point in time. A competent combination of these two disciplines will provide a solid foundation for strategic planning processes that follow.