Recent news and Research Tidbits from Bureau West:
March 4th, 2014 by Jay Zaltzman in Research Tidbits
A continuing care retirement community felt it needed to fix a broken business model, expand the scope of its non-traditional support and off-campus services, and modernize its image to stay current with trends in marketing to seniors.
An all-day brand workshop was conducted; the management team dug deep to identify what should stay and what needed to be fixed. The session revealed significant agreement on core values, but several serious divides as to how the community could evolve as a business going forward. One area of disagreement: to what extent would the community’s religious affiliation impede its ability to reach new secular prospects?
Research was conducted to test the assumptions generated during the brand workshop. Many of the concerns were debunked. For example, most prospects felt that, if the religious aspect were not ‘front and center,’ it would not have a negative impact. In fact, the faith-based affiliation was viewed by some as a positive – being a non-profit made the community more desirable and reliable.
Based on the research as well as the core values garnered from the brand workshop, a new business model, brand architecture and brand identity were developed. The focus of the community’s marketing strategy shifted from being print-heavy to one primarily driven online by a comprehensive website that integrated 4 business units under one single portal, the introduction of e-marketing, resident populated blogs, and other social media tactics.
What started with one brand workshop led to a new, contemporized and highly relevant brand. In only 18 months since its launch, the community has expanded from one market serving 925 people to three markets serving over 2000 with campus and community-based residential, support and enrichment services. A success story indeed!
Can a brand workshop benefit your company? Give us a call at 818-752-7210 to discuss.
January 27th, 2014 by Jay Zaltzman in Research Tidbits
“Omni-channel marketing” refers to marketing to customers through all the different channels by which they might engage with your brand. The concept has become more important in recent years, since customers now have many different ways to learn about a product: in addition to more traditional channels such as viewing an advertiser’s TV commercial or their website, today’s customers might be searching online for advice about what to buy, or checking on social media, or reading reviews about a product on their smart phones while shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, or using an app to compare prices… and the list goes on.
In our research, we have found two major motivators for customers to use multiple channels: making the shopping process easier and finding the best price. How do we best cater to those needs? By making sure we’re there with relevant information and offers when the customer wants them. For example, when they walk into your store. While customers value their privacy, we have found they’re quite interested in receiving this kind of information if it will save them time or money and as long as they’ve given their permission.
My friend Scott Holmes, president of interactive agency United Future, calls it “At-the-Ready Marketing.” In a recent article, he recommended a variety of tactics, including:
- Encouraging positive online reviews, and providing imagery and content that are easily shareable on social media
- Offering proximity-based digital coupons
- Rewarding loyalty with special perks that make shopping even easier
To learn how to most effectively market to your customers, give us a call at (818) 752-7210.
Sources: , Bureau West research; “Rethinking Retail,” Infosys, 1/14/14; “5 ‘At-the-Ready’ Mobile Retail Marketing Strategies – Getting Close and Personal,” iMediaConnection, 1/18/14
September 10th, 2013 by Jay Zaltzman in Research Tidbits
One of the most common uses of market research is to test advertising. Companies want to create the most effective advertising possible; their target customers should be able to tell them how to create ads that will get them to make a purchase.
At least that’s the theory. Of course, the reality is a bit more complicated than that. Market research can be used in different ways at different stages in the process of developing ads.
I think one of the most powerful uses of market research is to conduct research before the advertising is developed. That is, talk to potential customers in order to uncover the hot-button issues – the types of things they want to know in order to make the purchase decision. We would use focus groups in this situation, and utilize a variety of indirect questioning techniques to go beyond the rational answers and get at the things that really matter to people. This gives the ad agency’s creative staff the raw material they need to create great, impactful advertising.
But what happens after the ad agency develops a number of potential ad concepts, and they want to choose the one that will be most effective? This is where things get tricky. Typically, the ad agency will have storyboards for the different concepts – sketches or temporary visuals of key concepts, along with draft text for the ads. The problem is, it’s difficult for customers to make the jump in their minds and imagine the storyboards as finished ads. Here are some tips we use when conducting this kind of research:
- Make sure participants understand what the ad will look like when it’s finished. When possible, we like to show an example of a rough ad followed by the finished version (from advertising for a different category). That helps research participants make the jump in their mind.
- Level the playing field. Make sure you’re using similar stimuli for the different concepts. Don’t use beautiful photography for one of your concepts and rough sketches for another. If you don’t have beautiful photographs for all the concepts being tested, then it’s better to remove them and just use the sketches.
- Don’t go halfway. In many cases, I recommend against showing research participants half-finished ads. If we can’t show something close to a final ad, we might be better off just getting reactions to a brief description of the advertising idea. That way, we make sure we’re not getting reactions to text or visuals that might not be in the final ad anyway.
In some cases, once the ads are completed, advertisers want to conduct focus groups “just as a disaster check,” to make sure there are no “red flags” or misunderstandings. This is the type of research ad agencies hate, since they’re afraid research participants will pick their advertising apart with comments such as “I don’t like red” or “the mom in that commercial is too thin.” There’s some validity to those fears: when utilized incorrectly, this kind of research can lead to advertising that doesn’t offend anyone but is also completely forgettable. In many cases, I recommend quantitative research for completed ads. However, focus groups can work as long as we make sure they’re really being used as a disaster check. So if most participants don’t understand the offer or don’t get a joke that’s being made in the ad, it may be worth tweaking. But remember, they’re consumers, not art directors!
To learn how customers react to your advertising, give us a call at (818) 752-7210.
June 20th, 2013 by Jay Zaltzman in Research Tidbits
Clients frequently come to us when they’re trying to find opportunities to innovate. As people’s lifestyles change, companies want to know what new products they can offer or what new twists can be created to give them a competitive advantage.
The problem is, it’s hard to ask people about things they don’t know they need. Here are some techniques we use to elicit valuable ideas from participants:
We provide a pile of images cut out from magazines and ask participants to choose several images that represent the ideal version of the product or service being discussed. Using images (rather than just talking about the topic) enables participants to go beyond rational thinking and tap into feelings. We then have them explain why they chose each picture and then we ask what they could add to the picture to make it even better. When we’re in a focus group situation, after going around the room with this exercise, we then ask the group to build the ideal version together. This enables participants to pool their creativity and build on each other’s ideas.
The above technique is helpful when we want to improve an existing offering. But what about when we’re looking for completely new ideas? One way to do this can be to look at how behaviors in a certain category are changing. We might have participants use a mobile app to describe the relevant behavior as it happens (either by text message or even by calling in and leaving voicemail messages). Then, we might have them participate in a group discussion where they discuss the behaviors recorded and compare them to how things were done a few years ago, in order to uncover new needs. From there, we might use a brainstorming exercise to think of ideas to address those needs.
In order to find answers to research questions, we often find it’s important to go beyond simply asking direct questions. The above are just two of many different techniques we consider when designing research. If you have a research question, talk to us about the best ways to find the answer! Give us a call at (818) 752-7210.
April 20th, 2013 by Jay Zaltzman in Research Tidbits
I was recently fortunate enough to attend a fascinating presentation by Piyul Mukherjee and Pia Mollback-Verbic from Quipper Research in India. They presented a convincing argument about why we should not always attempt to replicate research designed in the US when we need to conduct that research in countries that are not Western in their culture – countries such as India or China.
I’ll go into detail below, but first, on a related note, I’m proud to announce that I have become part of Think Global Qualitative, an alliance of researchers around the world. Members of Think Global Qualitative are smart researchers (if I do say so myself!) and have collaborated with each other in the past. Our alliance makes it even easier for us to offer our clients international research projects and to share our expertise with each other. Read more at http://thinkglobalqualitative.com/.
But back to the presentation: Piyul and Pia discussed the differences between Eastern and Western cultures. While Western cultures tend to be egalitarian, individualistic and strive to avoid uncertainty, Eastern cultures tend to be hierarchical, collective and accept uncertainty. While these differences are not surprising, they have profound implications for conducting international research.
For example, let’s say we’re conducting research about how moms utilize laundry detergent in the home. In the U.S., the researcher would likely come to the home of the research participant, ask her to demonstrate how she normally does laundry and ask for her opinions about various laundry products. Even though we know the researcher might have some impact on the respondent’s behavior, we’d expect the demonstration to be fairly similar to her behavior in everyday life. We’d also expect to speak mainly to our respondent, even if her husband or children might be at home.
If we tried to conduct the same research in India, we’d be in for some surprises! In India, it isn’t possible for the researcher to be “a fly on the wall;” rather, they would be treated as an honored guest, so respondent behavior would be far from typical. And expect the whole family to join in. If a videographer and clients come along, even the neighbors would likely want to participate! And in many cases, the male head of household would feel he needs to give his opinion first, even when discussing a topic such as doing laundry, about which he would have no knowledge.
Instead of trying to replicate the U.S. research exactly, Piyul and Pia recommend tweaking the methodology to account for those cultural differences. For example, providing cell phones or video cameras to respondents before the interview. We might have the husband or children interview the respondents on camera and then review and discuss the footage with the family during the actual interview. This provides a much more authentic view of the behavior and allows the respondent to express her opinions more freely. In this example, even though the methodology would not be identical in the U.S. and in India, we would be far more likely to obtain accurate answers to the client’s research questions.
Do you need to conduct research in multiple countries? Give us a call! We’ll utilize all our resources – including Think Global Qualitative – to come up with the most effective methodology for the countries involved. Call us at: (818) 588-6050.
Sources: Quipper Research Pvt Ltd; Think Global Qualitative; Bureau West research