Table of Contents
1. What is Consumer Research?
Consumer research is a subset of market research that identifies the propensity, motivation, and purchasing behavior of targeted clients.
Consumer research assists firms and organizations in better understanding customer psychology and developing detailed purchase behavior profiles.
There are two types of consumer research. Quantitative research defines your company by assessing variables such as customer happiness.
Qualitative research explains why statistics findings are what they are and why customers think and feel the way they do.
2. Why is Consumer Research Important?
These tactics and ideas will assist your company in connecting with customers and creating better experiences for everyone engaged with your company.
a. Prioritizes Customers
Customer data is not about internal issues, personal ambitions, or even arbitrary priorities.
Customer buy-in determines the success or failure of a business. Customers are the driving force behind sound business decisions.
b. Aids the Company's Focus
Maintaining a customer-centric mindset is crucial for all businesses.
There are always plenty of opinions within an office, but those that come from the consumers are the most important.
Market research assists you in developing strategies for prioritizing and maximizing your time.
Moreover, data can influence how individuals in business use their time in the short and long term.
c. Maintains your Relevance
Companies that stick to every stage of their five-year plans without considering market research and trends may struggle to expand.
Market conditions together with consumer preferences shift quickly as technology and trends evolve.
Market research identifies products, services, and ideas to customers and forces organizations to address the changes that must be done in order to satisfy or retain customers.
As a result, in order to evolve, your brand must adapt to the new scenario.
d. Reduces Hazards
Some firms, particularly IT behemoths, are known for disclosing previously unseen products to the public. Think about Apple for example.
Engineers thoroughly conceptualize, develop, and test them. So what happens? When presentation day comes and products are made public, they almost always fall short in some way.
However, most businesses are not multibillion-dollar behemoths that can afford to take such risks.
Getting in front of customers, researching rivals, and determining what people genuinely want can help smaller businesses avoid costly blunders in the name of innovation.
e. Identifies your Target Audience
The more businesses collaborate directly with customers, the better their products will become.
Often, organizations believe that their target audience is one part of the public, only to discover that a whole different demographic could profit from what they have to offer.
Market research assists marketers in learning about their clients as individuals - what they like, where they spend their time, what inspires them, and so on.
While this information may not be immediately significant or relevant, it may be useful in the future when a company wants to launch new advertising and social media initiatives.
3. Key Aspects for Conducting Consumer Research Studies
Without question, one of the most important aspects of consumer research is maintaining a critical distance from the subject being studied.
In one of my last pieces, I wrote about a study done by a large market research company on body image.
In the study, I noted how the results were absolutely skewed by cultural factors which were not picked up by the researchers.
The outcome was that the results and conclusions that were drawn by this study were almost meaningless when looking at it from a consumer research perspective.
It is however, important to note that the solution to this is not clear cut or easy.
One might think that this solution would be to then employ local experts, however this solution might suffer from a problem well-known and recognized by ethnographers, the issue of critical distance.
Going native is a term given to researchers when studying culture to forgo their critical distance and become unable to objectively analyze the setting that they are in (LeCompte & Goetz, 1982).
This loss of objectivity comes from the researcher being so immersed in their local culture that they can only see issues through that culture’s perspective to the detriment of any insights they may gain from their research.
The solution proposed to this issue for researchers is to regain critical distance again, this is done through a periodic withdrawal from the field of study, which in theory allows the researcher to return to a more critical state (Whyte 1955).
Other researchers are more pessimistic about this and they argue that the particular piece of research should terminate at the point when the researcher notices they have gone native (Everhart, 1977).
This leads me to the issue with local agencies, which exist immersed in their own culture to a point where their objectivity and critical distance are in doubt.
Referring to my original piece on Mexico, where I looked at how machismo is understood by Latin cultures and its impact on how respondents would answer questions of body image.
Talking this issue through with different parties, including several marketing research experts from LATAM, they failed to recognize this issue until I mentioned it specifically, subsequently agreeing with it as a major factor for the study.
One of the reasons I was able to do this is of course my training and experience as a researcher.
However, it is not the only explanation. It is the fact that I have been away (living, studying and working) from LATAM, that allows me to dispassionately dissect these cultural constructs.
This has allowed me to gain sufficient critical distance from the population that I study whilst allowing me to still retain my native expertise in it.
This is therefore the main issue with local marketing research companies, the fact that they usually do not consider critical distance when approaching studies of consumer research.
Based on this case, it is important for clients when requesting pieces of analysis in a market to try and understand how this issue is being addressed by the marketing research company in question.
The firm should not be so far removed that the culture is alien to them, leading to the lack of cultural expertise and sensitivity shown in the study on global body image.
There should also not be blindness to these powerful constructs that come from never objectively and dispassionately analyzing the culture one lives in.
At Toucan Insights, we are passionate about our marketing research ensuring we collaborate with local and international experts to ensure that this critical balance is maintained.
We believe this brings out the most accurate and powerful insights, allowing companies to understand their consumers, better serving their needs and attracting them to their offering.