Consumer Research In the Digital age

Nutrition Industry Executive

The most common new product request for Kraft Miracle Whip is a jar with tops on both ends so that consumers don’t get their hands messy scraping out the bottom. As product innovators, we know that solid consumer research is one of the keys to developing successful new products, but we also know that not all input from consumers is worth acting on. Obtaining viable data for making successful product decisions is key.

Only a decade ago, mining consumer data meant the use of traditional research methods to derive consumer feedback about concepts, messaging and sensory attributes; more sophisticated companies used ethnographics and psychographics to reveal why consumers act as they do and to uncover purchase motivations.
Presently, via the internet and smartphone technology, we can locate almost any tidbit of information we want. With so much info out there, it is a challenge how to best utilize the constant data stream and the constantly new technology platforms.
The internet is leading traditional marketers to a larger consumer audience and equipping them with more sophisticated data collection and measurement/insight tools. Even if your company is utilizing all the popular social media, do you have a grasp on which messages are more meaningful to your consumers, or what their biggest gripes are? Your marketing team should understand their demographics, lifestyle choices, and what other sites they are visiting. When you know this information, you can create stronger brands and identify new product opportunities. Analytical tools like Google Analytics, SiteCatalyst, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud (previously Radian6), will help obtain this data.

Traditionally, qualitative research was done through focus groups and lengthy in-person or phone surveys. Today, there are numerous online tools that allow for the same research. These include online communities/discussion boards, journaling, mobile research, immersive research, video/webcam focus groups, and real-time chat. Online survey tools — such as surveymonkey.com, surveygizmo.com or survata.com — are tremendous time savers and are budget-friendly; and firms such as 5 Circles Research help marketers use these tools for the best, most accurate gains.

When “face to face” research is called for because you want to see body language, and hear tone, Facetime or Skype become reasonable options. However, when you want consumers to touch, smell, and taste product, as well as be able to discuss it together, traditional focus groups remain a great place to start. Then you can move online or to quantitative research to validate the findings of this small group.

There’s one constant truth — it’s what you do with the data that is important. It’s like going to Home Depot. Staff will sell you any tool you want, but unless you have clearly outlined the project objectives and outcomes, you are likely to buy the wrong tool for the job. Consumer research should be an integral tool in your go-to-market strategy, and communicating frequently with your audience increases the chances of developing a new product with a clear message that will perform well in the marketplace.

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Consumer Research In the Digital age