Companies spend vast amounts of time, money and effort on market research and with good reason. Research takes the guesswork out of decision making, it can establish whether an offering is appealing to a target audience, it informs product development), pricing, placement and much, much more!
As expert market researchers, we understand the importance of understanding customer needs and preferences. In today’s competitive business environment, businesses must develop and market products that meet their customers’ expectations to remain relevant and profitable.
In this blog post, I will explain how the fieldwork Face Facts Research conducts for their clients helps them gather insights on customer behaviour, preferences, and buying habits, and how these insights can help businesses create customer-centric strategies that improve their bottom line.
Depending on the specific project objectives one or a number of different data collection methods can be used to gather the required insights. At a top-level, quantitative studies give the numerical confirmation on the findings (think ‘how many’ and ‘what proportion’) compared to qualitative methodologies which give a broader depth of insight (think ‘how’s’ and ‘why’s’).
We explore each of these approaches and explain the main methodologies that are used below.
At Face Facts Research, we use quantitative surveys to gather information about customers to answer varied research objectives, be they to establish preferences, understand buying habits, gather opinions on comms or attitudes to new product innovations.
We are able to script and manage complex surveys to answer any research need. Quantitative studies are a way to collect robust data from a large sample size to enable strategic recommendations to be given based on statistical significance so businesses can make decisions with confidence. We conduct such surveys online, or in-person. Surveys can help businesses understand who their customers are, what products they are buying, how often they are buying them, and what factors influence their purchasing decisions.
An online survey is a cost effective way of contacting research with a large number of respondents using a structured survey. A survey can be emailed to a client list (e.g. of customers or lapsers) or respondents can be contacted via a panel. Panel respondents answer screener questions and we also set up quotas to ensure those spoken to are relevant to the research objectives.
Face-to-face approaches include; intercepts (exit or entrance interviews, point of sale, end of aisle, street interviews, etc.), central location tests and in-home product testing.
Face-to-face intercepts are traditionally used to gather ‘in the moment’ feedback on a customer’s recent experience. Our interviewers, armed with an iPad, intercept customers on street, in-stores, at a store exit, whilst visiting/attending a venue, at exhibitions / festivals, etc. In order to increase the response rate (number of interviews that can be achieved per interviewer shift) we advise that the interview is short and simple. Intercepts offer the opportunity to speak to customers at a point where their experience is fresh in their mind. They also enable a specific audience to be spoken to who have been in a particular store, at a certain venue, etc. with complete confidence that they have experienced/interacted with whatever is being researched.
A CLT (Central Location Test) otherwise known as Hall Test, is where research participants attend a central location to participate in a market research session – usually quantitative in nature. They are either recruited off street (when looking to speak to a general population sample) or pre-recruited (when the people that need to be interviewed are more specific e.g. have to eat a particular product). The benefits of CLT’s are that any product can be measured/assessed controlled, so ‘identical’ comparisons can be made.
In-home product tests enable respondents to trial products as they would in a natural setting. Participants test the products and may be required to write up a diary during the testing or simply complete a survey (usually online) after they have tested each product.
These are ideal when a product needs to be used in a scenario that replicates how products are used at home e.g. shampoo, cleaning products or products that are generally consumed by multiple members of a family e.g. cereal.
We also recruit for qualitative research to enable our clients to gain a deeper understanding of customer needs and preferences. These tend to take the form of focus groups, depth interviews or communities.
Groups involve Face Facts bringing together a small number of individuals who share common characteristics or interests and our clients facilitate/moderate a discussion about a particular product or service with them. You may hear about other variations of a ‘standard’ group discussion for example mini group discussions (anything from 3 people per session), extended creativity groups (3–4-hour sessions with lots of content and structure), reconvened group discussions (longitudinal studies that can include more than one session), family groups/family visits, paired depths or friendship pairs and triads.
All of these approaches have the same basis in that they are flowing conversations where a moderator has a loose script / areas to cover / questions to ask but allows the conversation to flow for them to receive the insights they need. They can be held in person or online. The moderator is trained to ensure that all participants views / opinions are listened to and explored. The group dynamic can be used to investigate different (non-sensitive) opinions. Groups discussions can help build and progress ideas as people bounce ideas around.
A depth interview is a one-to-one session and Face Facts recruit respondents to participate in these online, face-to-face or over the phone. As with groups, the moderator uses a pre-determined discussion guide to explore the respondent’s personal opinions on a topic. These are generally used to gain detailed information about an individual that can then be related to their behaviours, attitudes and experiences. Responses are open-ended and give both moderator and respondent the flexibility for the discussion to flow as naturally as possible Individual’s opinions can be explored without others’ perceptions, opinions or ideas influencing the discussion or impacting on the responses given. Questions can be tailored to specifically match the respondent and sensitive and/or personal matters can be discussed privately rather than in a group scenario.
A research community is set up over a more extended period, it can be from a few days, a week or longer. Respondents are recruited and given access to an online platform where they are then informed of usually daily tasks, for example, watch a video and give feedback, answer a specific question, upload a video of an experience, etc. Throughout the research the moderator can access all answers and ask respondents further questions about their answers. As the research is over a longer time period it is possible to adapt the questions being asked as the respondents give their feedback and evolve an idea/product.
By using these different market research techniques, Face Facts clients can provide businesses with a deep understanding of their customer’s needs and preferences.
This information can be used to develop customer-centric strategies that improve the customer experience, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately drive revenue growth.
By understanding customer needs and preferences, businesses can create products and services that meet the needs of their customers, differentiate themselves from their competitors, and build a strong brand reputation.
In conclusion, understanding customer needs and preferences is essential for businesses that want to remain relevant and profitable in today’s competitive business environment.