7 Signs It’s Time to Conduct Qualitative Marketing Research

Frederik Magle conducting symphony orchestra, live in Koncerthuset.We know all the famous quotes:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”

I would argue that they’re wrong. In our fast-paced world we do get different results: buyers have short attention spans so campaigns have less traction; costs, competitors, and disruptors are increasing so we’re getting less return on investment.

Simply put: by continuing with what you’ve always done, things won’t stay the same, they’ll get worse. So, are you stuck in a rut? Is it time to rethink your strategy? Here are 7 signs it’s time to conduct marketing research:

1.    Your competitors are cooler than you.

There are just some brands that seem to be effortlessly awesome. You don’t have to worry if that’s not you, but you want to look and sound like you’re at least on the same level as your competitors. Qualitative marketing research can help you understand what your buyers are looking for so you don’t look out of touch with current trends.

2.    There’s bickering in the boardroom.

All of your colleagues have an opinion on what customers want and how the marketing campaign should look. Tensions are high because everyone thinks they are right for different reasons, and discussions start getting personal. If your team can’t seem to agree, it’s time to talk to the people you’re targeting: customers.

Boss Coffee vending machine.3.    The CEO thinks he’s the boss.

Well, there’s no getting around this one – he is the boss! But in the grand scheme of things, there is no business without buyers. When you don’t want to be the one to tell the CEO that he’s borrowed an idea from a friend’s company or that he’s not the target of the campaign, bringing in a neutral third-party with evidence-based insights may be the way to go

4.    The last product you launched was a bust.

Brand extensions are exciting when they go right; when they go wrong the best you can hope for is everyone just forgetting about it. Brands like Virgin have done excellent jobs of brand extension: going from music, to trains, to airplanes… but when they tried a water purifier, it wasn’t such a hit. You need to make sure that the new product fits with consumer perception of your brand. Otherwise, you’ll end up being just another statistic.

5.    Every tweet has you changing marketing direction.

Social media monitoring is a great tool for getting feedback about your brand, but you can’t treat so-called “keyboard warriors” as the last bastion of brand perception. For all you know, the person behind that Twitter account is 12 years old. Instead of treating brand fanatics and customer complaints like a focus group of one, how about conducting (at least three) real focus groups to gauge opinions?

6.    You simply don’t know what you want.

Every time you try to explain to your agency or creative team why you’re not happy with their designs or proposal, it’s a list of what you don’t want. That makes it difficult for them to create your vision. Are you looking for a more consistent message or would you prefer that the piece be more visual? Marketing research will help you stay on-brand and communicate with other departments and agencies.

7.    Numbers bore you. And everyone else.

Showing return on investment and customer acquisition costs may be a necessary part of the job, but marketing is about connecting with people. If you’re pitching a new campaign or product, you can bring the numbers alive with qualitative marketing research – clips from focus groups or quotes from ethnographic research. Despite the necessity of numbers, you’re still a creative – make that shine through.

BuyerSynthesis brings consumer insights to food, culture and clothing brands and their agencies to refine product strategy, user experience and communications.

Photos by Frederick Magle Music and Christian H.

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