Qualitative Methods: Online Market Research vs. In-Person

Understand Your Client's Goals to Decide Whether to Conduct Online Marketing Research.

Grafitti: Question EverythingChoosing a methodology for marketing research involves art as well as science. Your client’s comfort, budget and goals matter – because the least effective research is the research that never happens. Researchers: before you jump immediately to your toolbox of academic goodies, don’t forget to ask many, many questions first.

Questions to Ask Before Even Considering a Methodology

Some clients mistakenly think that hiring a researcher is much like hiring an accountant. Educate them by uncovering the nuances of the situation, their current knowledge and goals. Build understanding between client and researcher by starting with these types of questions:

  1. What decisions will be made with the results? Is the client planning to launch a new product or website and wants to improve the offering? Has the offering been finalized but they are looking to communicate it in the most effective way? Do they need to understand who their buyers are, or might be?
  2. Is this a high-involvement product, or one that only your clients think about constantly?
  3. Does your client need hard numbers to base forecasting, market roll-outs or pricing models upon?
  4. What research has been done in the past?

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When Research Better than Gut Instinct In Decision Making

Gut instincts are great for crises, but innovative decision making calls for research.

Army man doing sit-ups.No one ever references the guy who followed his gut instinct and failed. When talking about trusting your gut instinct, we all talk about the success stories: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Einstein – what is it about intuition that makes us all so confident in using it?

A recent report by SurveyMonkey found that 72% of SME leaders make decisions based purely on gut instinct, to the exclusion of qualitative or quantitative insights. That number is in line with the PwC survey of 1,100 senior business officials that showed only 23% of them preferred to look at data and analytics.

Should You “Go With Your Gut”?

The ‘gut instinct’ or intuition has fascinated researchers over the last few decades, many trying to determine whether it is an essential tool for fast decision-making or if it’s just an error-ridden Continue reading

Fit Key to Brand Extension Success

How to Extend Your Brand to Up the Odds of New Product Success.

2014 US Open (Tennis) - Qualifying Rounds - Saisai ZhengU.S. manufacturers introduce more than 150,000 new products in 2010 alone. Of these, more than 90 percent were extensions of existing brand-name products. The extreme failure rate (80% or more) often cited for new products is apparently closer to 30-49% for launched products. So investing your company’s budget and effort in new product development, especially products that leverage your current brand equity, makes sense.

Brand extension that wasn’t

My first marketing job was for a cute catalog with a cartoon family as spokespeople in the then-emerging category of software that served a dual purpose: to educate and entertain children. At that time, technology-leading teachers and doting, upscale parents were in need of basics. They wanted help in choosing and using all the best titles, and a return policy for these expensive teaching (and babysitting) computer tools.

A few years into it, prices were declining, big-box stores were starting to carry the titles, and our efficient little start-up had excess capacity. What about those gaming titles, the entrepreneurs Continue reading

Some Food Startups and Other Non-Techs to Watch

Hampton Creek's Just Mayo, Back to the Roots, Zinepak and Front & Center Marketing warrant a look.

Variety of Organic Spices USDA

When people think of startups, they’re often associated with young, driven entrepreneurs who are disrupting a market with technology or apps. This may be what we recognize as a startup, but the term can refer to any young business filled with potential and innovation, especially if it offers a new product or service.

We like companies that are doing something new, filling a gap in the market or exposing a market’s weaknesses, so we wanted to shed light on two food startups and a few others working outside the field of technology.

Here are some entrepreneurial companies you should keep your eye on: Continue reading

Advertising Research: Add Insights to Your Ads

7 Tips on Adding Consumer Research to Your Agency Team

Times Square Shows How Advertising Research WorksAdvertising, design and digital agencies are vital to the life of a brand. They add metaphor and visual appeal to even mundane products and connect companies to buyers. What you can’t see, however, may be even more important – the advertising research that drives the strategy upon which your agency’s work is based.

Large, full-service agencies may have strategy, research and planning departments, with the expertise to bring consumer insights to the creative table. Smaller agencies may have excellent strategists as partners, with their pulse on your industry.

But it’s ultimately up to you, the client, to make sure your agency has sound strategic insights to make its work smart and effective. Your agency’s brand planning approach, will be more effective if its consumer perspectives are based on research.

1. Agree on the ground rules before beginning a client-agency relationship.

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Brand Impact of Using Celebrities in Advertising

If you use celebrities in a strategic way they can encourage brand trial.

Behind the Scenes with Aveda at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York Spring Summer 2014Brands have been using celebrities in advertising for decades because they can bring in huge rewards. Choosing the right celebrity to endorse your products can help you stand out, build trust, and make your product memorable.

Are these benefits commonly associated with celebrity endorsements simply conjecture derived from anecdotal evidence? We delved into the research to determine whether celebrity endorsements truly do have an impact on the bottom lines of businesses and if so, how.

How do celebrities influence customer purchases?

Marketers use celebrity endorsers to influence purchase decisions of their target market. But how exactly does a celebrity impact a consumer’s buying behavior? Continue reading

How to Conduct a Focus Group

Step by Step Information on Planning and Moderating Focus Groups

Family shopping in Asian grocery storeYou may want to know how to conduct a focus group in order to understand how buyers feel about your brand, which new product ideas to pursue, or who your buyers are. While survey research can tell you how many, or what, focus groups are good at uncovering why people feel certain ways. Letting people talk with each other means they build on each other’s ideas and sometimes influence each other – just like word of mouth influences people in “real life”.

While you may spend every waking moment considering new uses for your product, you may well find that your buyers seldom do. So letting people come together to consider your business means they are reminded of what little they do think and can evolve their feelings over the course of the group. Since marketing is the art and science of influencing people, it’s helpful to see this happen in real time.

Decide Who You Want to Talk To

Who will you be selling your product or service to? Talk to them. If you already have an ongoing Continue reading

So You Want a Market Research Career?

Advice on Getting into Marketing Research for Students or Career Changers.

University of Iowa hats on clothesline.I’ve had research participants, clients, agency partners and other potential job changers ask me how to have a brand strategy or market research career. Apparently, chatting with people for a living, diving into the data, and helping to drive ideas in a company seems like good fun.

To Math or Not to Math?

Like many careers, the world of marketing research sometimes splits into qualitative (no-math) versus quantitative (yes-math). Qualitative researchers who conduct focus groups, in-depth interviews or in-home ethnographies often prefer the world of emotion, opinion, nuance and richness. They believe that understanding the why behind a situation is more meaningful Continue reading

Low Ecommerce Conversion Rate? 5 Reasons and How to Fix Them

These Factors May Be Affecting Customer Purchases Online and Driving your Low Ecommerce Conversion Rate.

8370405205_91800cafeb_zOnline retail is a quickly growing channel; in the US alone, ecommerce sales are expected to increase by almost $43 billion in 2015. Your business may have been focusing on content marketing, SEO, or improving your mobile approach, but bringing people to your website is worthless if they aren’t buying anything. Before spending money to build your community (content marketing) or to help your website be found (SEO) you want to make sure that you have your customer process down pat.

Here are 5 factors affecting your ecommerce conversion rate and how you can fix them:

1.    It’s too complicated.

Research has shown that people are affected by decision fatigue: this means that when people have too much choice, they often choose to do nothing. Keep your website clear and simple: one or two obvious calls-to-action and a simple, easy-to-use navigation bar will help keep customers on track.

Make sure that your payment process is seamless. Don’t require customers to log-in or sign Continue reading

How to Series: In-Depth Interview Research

Guide to Conducting an IDI (In-Depth Interview Research or One-on-One Interview)

13981256424_9658f31715_zFocus groups for marketing research provide a space where you can see ideas move about between people. Information flow happens in real time and topics that aren’t top of mind benefit from the different perspectives offered. While survey research quantifies ‘how many’ and ‘how much’, qualitative methods like focus groups go deeper to shed light on ‘why’ and ‘in what way’ types of questions.

This makes them ideal for developmental purposes like new product concept-to-prototype stages, buyer understanding, positioning research and usability studies.

An IDI, also called an in-depth or one-on-one interview, consists of real-time interaction between an interviewer and a participant. It can be done in person, online or on the phone. It’s best used for situations where group interaction would be uncomfortable or misleading, where an individual’s motivations, opinions, and values are thought to exist independently of social pressures, or when the interaction Continue reading