Marketing professionals, marketing research professionals, and strategic brand planners seek consumer insights to provide context, direction, and as, possible, vision for their teams’ efforts moving forward. There seem to be five key insights goals commonly desired:
- Profile my Consumers
(e.g., segmentation, personas, definition of the target market, etc.)
- Understand my Consumers’ Decisions
(e.g., consumer journey, path-to-purchase, behavioral studies, needs and drivers research)
- Assess my Brand Health/Brand Equity/Brand Perceptions
(e.g., brand tracking, brand equity, brand affinity, brand and competitor perceptions)
- Determine Resonance of a Communications Approach
(e.g., Will this positioning/messaging/packaging/advertising work for target consumers?)
- Explore my Market (my category, my channel(s), perceptions of my product)
(e.g., What’s going on in the category? In a specific retail context? With these unique trends of product consumption and purchasing?)
Many informed, research-savvy professionals may feel they know exactly what marketing research methodology can be procured to address their needs when one of these broad goals arises. However, addressing the strategic questions underlying these goals – for example…
- “Who is our target customer?”
- “How do they shop?”
- “Do they know the brand? What do they think of the brand? What do they think of us compared to competitors?”
- “Does x approach work?”
- “What else is going on in the market?”
…may require more learning than one off-the-shelf market research methodology can offer.
Marketing research initiatives that are rooted in proven practices yet creatively customized and crafted (while keeping these essential questions and strategic goals in focus) are ideal for these situations where deeper insights are desired.
At times, a combination of methodologies may be appropriate. Sometimes alterations to standard approaches are helpful. Perhaps a unique framework or creative approach to questioning will uncover new “a-ha!” insights. Flexibility is essential to setting up an effective study that generates results that can have an impact.
The marketplace challenges that many brands face are sophisticated and dynamic. Smart, creative, goal-oriented thinking will guide a stronger overall approach than simply applying a rigid out-of-the-box research process.
Flexibility, grounded in best practices but not necessarily restrained by them, allows for greater adherence to underlying business goals, research objectives, and ultimately, sets us up to better address our clients’ needs.