Posts tagged ‘market research’
I was at a viewing facility on Monday evening where they seemed to be hell bent on fulfilling their duty of care to clients and moderators in making sure we were looking after ourselves properly. As well as the usual fruit basket and fridges filled with water, Coke and Red Bull, they offered fruit juices and no less than six different flavours of vitamin enriched water (I can report that the lemon one is particularly nice).
I was feeling quite pleased with myself for managing to arrange a healthy, tasty, yet dairy free fork buffet to cater for Client no. 1’s dietary needs…until Client no. 2 piped up just as it was all being served that they only ate Halal meat. Sigh. You can’t win ‘em all.
So, after looking at the New Normal of measuring client’s bravery and budget we move on to part two – attitudes towards market research.
Desk research tools like TGI and Mintel are becoming increasingly unhelpful as we slide deeper into this recession. Data that was collected twelve or eighteen months ago in happier economic times about spending patterns or consumer attitudes is at best unreliable and at worst downright misleading.
Which means that the role of primary research is becoming increasingly important. I’m not basing this on any hard data, but it seems to me that research as a specialism does seem to be surviving the recession rather nicely. Want to prove your campaign worked? Measure awareness pre and post. Want to understand how your target audience are defining value right now? Do some groups. Need to understand how the fixture is being browsed? Accompanied shops.
In other words, want to prove to your boss that you made a rational, thought through decision based on robust data and intelligent analysis and that the resulting communication was entirely effective? Call in the quallies and quanties.
The multinational clients and big brands who traditionally threw research at everything might be cutting back a bit, but the medium and smaller research buyers seem to be actually upping their spend when it comes to comms and NPD research in an effort to be sure they’re making the right decisions.
To be honest, I’m rather pleased about all this new-found ‘if it moves, research it’ attitude. There’s a great quote in Jon Steel’s Truth, Lies, and Advertising from one of his clients:
“Without research, we are flying in the dark. Not only are we in the dark, but we have no radio, no compass and no fuel gauge. I don’t know about you, but I would hate to fly on that plane.”
Part three, consumer values to follow soon…
With the economy making everyone increasingly risk averse, it seems to me that Jon Steel’s adage about clients using research not as a navigational tool but to protect themselves and their career from a fiery end is becoming increasingly apt.
With limited research budgets and risk averse clients it can be very tempting to use research to prove that there is nothing wrong with the campaign/ positioning/ strategy/ creative, rather than using it to discover what the right, unique, differentiating solution might be.
If research gives respondents a choice of A, B or C (and if significant time and money has been invested in bringing these solutions to this point), it is very tempting to go with the most popular of the three, or some combination, i.e. the one that has nothing wrong with it. At this stage it is getting a bit late to start again from scratch just because the right answer D has been identified and in any case the kind of research techniques that separate routes A, B and C apart will not necessarily identify option D at all.
A campaign scrambled together from gut feel, an out of date U&A study and a few Mintel reports and then declared by research to have nothing wrong with it has a chance of success. But the right one developed from real first hand insight with the real target audience has the potential to be far more effective.
To deliver this we’re talking about the (in some client’s eyes) soft and fluffy end of research. The ethnographic kind that often doesn’t have set objectives and deliverables and other tick boxes that budget holders can happily sign off. Which is just the kind of research that gets very hard to justify when times are tight.
The majority of clients who embrace research will always want to hold on to the rubber stamping go-with-this-one end of the research process and will be reluctant to release that budget to a more exploratory phase in search of a holy grail of ‘the right answer’. And in the current climate expecting extra research budget to enable both rubber stamping and a real exploration of the lives, hopes and fears of the target audience is unlikely.
In our search for the Golden Nugget of Insight, should we be encouraging our clients on investing a lot of money on finding the right solution, or more modest sums on identifying which solution isn’t wrong?
So, the economy is in free fall and we’re all doomed. Right?
The quallies at work have been doing a lot of focus groups with Credit Crunched Mums recently. Apparently yes, Mums are being careful and trying to be more frugal – but a lot of them are doing so not because they are very worried about their finances right now, but because they think things are going to get worse before they get better.
I think we might be talking ourselves into making the economic situation worse. The media isn’t exactly helping, a quick dig round nexis revealed dozens of recent case study stories about families who were cutting back and lots of first-person pieces by jounros describing how they were economising madly, but nothing suggesting that just maybe, a few people were actually carrying on pretty much as normal.
It’s admirable if someone decides to live more frugally now in order to try and safeguard their immediate future. But with every scare-monger story the media puts out, perhaps it has got to a point where people are taking more severe steps then they really need to, in turn bringing about the next step of the downturn they were trying to protect themselves against in the first place…
From a respondent in a mail order group I was viewing last night:
Moderator: “So what do you do with your catalogue when it arrives?”
Respondent: “I take it straight to the toilet”
Email today from Mr Big Shot Client asking to move some of his groups from viewing to in-home as he would like to actually sit in on them.
I can only assume that he’s never spent three hours crammed into a corner of a suburban living room, precariously perched on an ancient velvet pouffe while trying to balance a cold cup of tea on one knee before…
16 groups, in viewing, across two locations, with 12 clients and 300 pieces of stimulus all in ONE DAY.
Did anyone else get a nasty shock when the time came to renew their WARC (World Advertising Research Centre) subscription? Mine after negotiation had still nearly doubled in price for no apparent reason. I know of two other Planning chums whose renewal has also been eye watering to say the least.
I know its good, but its not that good…
Interesting client feedback via a Research buddy today – one of their clients had apologised for not putting quantitative work their way recently. He explained that his role was now more about analysing his own customer data and buying in qualitaitive insight than farming out huge ‘how many and how much’ surveys.
If we accept that the world has fragmented in every long-tailed possible way (consumers, media channels, product and service distribution channels etc) and speeded up at the same time, then perhaps he has a point.
What’s the point of knowing how many potential customers there are out there if you don’t prioritise how to effectively communicate with them?
Produced for the New England 2007 Hatch Awards by Arnold, this is a sobering example of why the average focus group stuck in a meeting room and forced to watch an animatic don’t necessarily produce the kind of feedback that leads to great creative.
In fact, there’s a whole other rant here bemoaning the demise of holding groups in recruiter’s homes. I think its something to do with insurance, but certainly round my way its come to an end.
Which is a real shame because the best, most honest groups I’ve moderated or observed have come from a group of women (who might even, shock horror, have met each other before) cosied up in someone’s living room with cups of tea and biscuits chatting about Life – rather than a group of strangers holed up in a meeting room with a flip chart.