Research Analysis Change What You Currently Do to win
By Tom Dougherty
A sovereign’s first duty is doubtless to conform with the wishes of the people; but what the people say is scarcely ever what they wish: their desires and their wants cannot be learned from their own mouths so well as they are to be read in the heart of their prince.” -Napoleon Bonaparte
At Stealing Share, we insist on conducting primary research for our clients because we understand the brand value of the nuances within the market place when developing brand strategies. We have yet to encounter a client with existing research worth the paper upon which it is printed. Research, as currently practiced, is stagnant, describing the market as it currently is, finding solutions and ideas that are already currently known.
Market Research Can Fail If Done Improperly
In turn, profitable revelations rendered from current research processes are few and far between. Failure resides not in the methodology, but in the process leading to the research study.
When research studies depend solely upon the focus group process, failure is imminent. Marketers use focus groups as means to cover their butts in case of the unexpected negative result. Focus groups are comparable to hand towels with regard to coverage, functional after dinner, but utterly futile after a long shower.
Market research should prove projectable, and focus groups most certainly are not. Neither positive response nor negative response from focus groups is reliable. Within one focus group, there will be a wide spectrum of responses ranging from positive to negative and everything in between.
Many ideas are hailed because the focus group approves of them or disregards them immediately, because the group gave it thumbs down. Napoleon concludes, “Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.” With focus groups, a scapegoat is produced and marketers feel a false sense of security when in reality, rock, paper, scissors would be equally effective.
Qualitative data via one-on-one studies is the most beneficial acquisition and even that data should only be utilized as preliminary direction for the quantitative research. Quantitative data is the main course and yet rarely makes it out of the oven and onto the table. We conduct this market research about a third of the way through the project. Preceding work, which considers the consumer above all else, indicates the effectiveness and value of the research immediately following.
Beliefs direct human behavior, and we insist on the completion of behavior modeling before conducting any research. The modeling projects preceptive beliefs that affect brand purchases, trial, and loyalty. Only after we recognize these possibilities do we embark upon the research questionnaire. We look to discover what “can be” or “should be” in addition to what IS. Most research acts as a snapshot of the existing market when the real value of research lies in the testing of possibilities. A few basic precepts we use when organizing research are: 1) Don’t ask questions to which you know the answer. 2) Before you ask a question, ask yourself what you can achieve from the answer. If it is not actionable, do not bother asking. 3) When you test the value of precepts, test the level of importance (i.e. using a 1-5 scale). 4) Never conduct research until after you establish direction and strategy.
Analyze the research. Test these plans. For example, one client conducted research for years with studies asking the customer what they considered important and why they considered it important. They also tested the standard awareness issues that have become quite commonplace. The customer responded unaided, to open-ended questions. Safety, convenience and price were important factors. Consequently, the brand and marketing strategy was built around these obvious concepts. The problem arose in that these are consistent category descriptors, and no one, regardless of the brand, accepts a product into their considered set if it is not perceived to be safe, convenient, and properly priced.
Our behavior modeling (You can read about behavior modeling here) in this case proposed that ownership and familiarity with the purchase process were both crucial barriers to overcome. It provides scaffolding for better analysis of market research. Addressing the deficit of “ownership” in the marketing directly increased sales, thus growing market share. The study demonstrates the importance of using research to test ideas rather than to direct them. The concept of ownership seemed “silly” to the customer, and even though it affected behavior, he did not admit it until asked.
Ownership had NEVER appeared in previous studies. When looking to build a brand that steals market share and changes behavior it is imperative to challenge everything and observe the problem dispassionately. Research is a crucial element of the brand development model, and yet most of the existing research is worthless and tainted with bias before it even has a chance to use its legs. Great research is revealing, connecting the brand to significant consumer beliefs.
This connection, however, does not happen by chance. It requires understanding consumer beliefs and testing them. In other words, “A marketer’s first duty is doubtless to conform with the wishes of the customer; but what the customers say is scarcely ever what they wish: their desires and their wants cannot be learned from their own mouths so well as they are to be read in the heart of the strategist.”