Rethinking Research

Brand Strategy, | by

I think one of the biggest mistakes we can make—and by “we” I mean all of us, clients and agencies alike—is to assume that we totally know and understand everything about our target audiences.

Just like modern technology, our target audiences are often changing and evolving. They have access to new information all the time, allowing them to be more educated about their choices and decisions, making them more savvy customers than ever.

So why are we so resistant to “re” get to know our audiences? Maybe because it involves research, which always feels like a big and scary undertaking. In the past, the term “research” has been synonymous with focus groups. Or, focu$ group$, as we often see it with major dollar signs attached.

But just as technologies are evolving for our customers to get to know the market better, so are the technologies for us to reconnect with our target audiences and insights about them. Yes, focus groups are still an option, a very valid one at that. But there are so many other options available now. Check out some of the cool market research tools outlined below.

  • Crowdsourcing – Hardly a new technique, crowdsourcing can be used not just as research, but also as a means to produce advertising. Think back to Doritos, when they “outsourced” the making of their Super Bowl commercial to the general public. This is an example of crowdsourcing. The general definition is getting work or opinions from a crowd. For research purposes, you could ask a question to a general market about your product or trends to elicit insights and responses. This type of research is easier than ever, with social media outlets like Twitter reaching massive amounts of crowds all at once.
  • Trendspotting – Also known as “ethnography” or simple observation, trendspotting is a very inexpensive method of research. Just by watching a targeted group and observing behaviors, you can learn a lot about your customers. For example, to learn more about the target audience of a teen fashion retail client, you could strategically place “plants” throughout the store. You can see how they act, hear what they say and observe their general shopping behaviors.
  • Polling – Have a nagging question about your service or brand? Just ask your Facebook fans, or post it on your website. A simple, one-question poll takes no time to answer, and because of it being placed on an outlet relevant to your business, you’re capturing an audience that’s meaningful and on-target. Plus, a one-question poll on Facebook is free! You can’t beat that. For a more sophisticated polling application, check out CrowdTap. And for longer form surveying, Survey Monkey is inexpensive, customizable outlet.
  • Mobile Marketing – Today, almost everyone has a cell phone. (Definitely not going out on a limb here.) So truly, there’s always a way to connect with them. You can create surveys that are sent directly to their mobile devices. The key is, keep it short and simple. Make it as easy as answering a text from a friend. For an even deeper dive, you can push out surveys to them while they are actually interacting with your brand through proximity-based recognition. Talk about top-of-mind!

So, are you convinced of the simplicity of reconnecting with your customer? I hope so! As marketers, it’s our job to research. Knowing our audience and understanding what they think of our brand or service is critical to crafting the right message to reach them.

I recently read a research report from Google that stated that 70% of Americans look at product reviews before making a purchase, 79% use a smartphone to research while shopping and 83% of moms research a product online after seeing a commercial about it on TV. They’re taking the time to do their research. We should be, too!

MarketSpace has conducted research on all different levels for our clients. If you are interested in any of the methods discussed above, or want recommendations about what information you should be gathering, give us a call!

Trish Parkhill
Creative Director

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