Qualitative methods are most certainly a more appropriate option when in deed of researching patterns and attitudes in customer behavior, understand the depth of the environment around the customer, and understand the cultural characteristics then influence a customer – especially when the marketer is not familiar with the locality. There are certain situations where qualitative research alone can provide the marketer with all insights needed to make decisions and take actions; while in some other cases quantitative research might be needed as well.
Here I present the main qualitative techniques and see how and where they can be employed. 1 . Know Your Customers 2. Observational and quasi-observational techniques; 3. Projective techniques and 4. In-depth interviews 1. Know Your Customers Having a competitive advantage over other businesses targeting the same market as yours is a basic, survival must: many choose to develop longer relationships with their customers, in an attempt to create such competitive advantage. Knowing your customers is crucial, and it is quite a different thing from knowing their buying behavior.
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It is every marketer’s dream to have real, up-to-date information about consumers: their preferences, opinions, attitudes, beliefs, interests, education level, behavior are the base Of understanding their needs. Businesses often employ Marketing research to determine the consumers’ degree of acceptance of a new product, and the reason behind this is the fact that launching a new product without a real demand would involve much more costs than actual market research. Plus, a failed product launch is not only damaging for a business’ finances but also its image and reputation.
Any marketing research upon consumers’ profile should address at least the following questions: Who makes the market of a product? A company active on any given market must ask itself who its customers are. Are they mostly young people, or perhaps elderly? Women or men? What would their income levels be? This is the demographic information that can be a starting point in creating a customer profile. What do people buy? Is there a certain product consumers seem to prefer? Can we detect a trend of migrating to a given product? Will the market accept new products or changes in existing ones?
These questions could offer a perspective on the mechanisms triggering buying decisions; the answers could indicate just how open to changes customers are. Why do people buy? Many businesses ignore the reasons why their customers choose one reduce or another. While we all know that impulse buying is a reality, most purchases are still made on reasons of benefits, value, satisfaction. Hence, we should ask ourselves “Why certain products are more popular among consumers and are perceived as being superior to others? ” Who takes the buying decision?
It is critical to know who is actively involved in the buying process, as the users of a product are not necessarily the ones to buy it. For example, food items destined to children are normally bought by a parent, which means the advertising messages should be aimed at parents and not at children. Identifying the real decision makers is an important part of any consumers research study. How is the buying decision taken? What are the reasons followed by consumers when making a buying decision? A marketer should remember that these reasons are likely to be influenced by a variety of social, cultural, economic factors.
When do people buy? Some products are requested and are offered only in certain periods of a year, as demand can be driven by social or cultural factors (think of seasonal holidays, for example). Consumers’ lifestyle might also dictate the day or week when shopping is done. Where do people buy? Identifying the preferred location for people to buy is yet another important task in researching consumers’ behavior. Where do they buy from? Supermarkets? The corner shop? New, creative venues can be employed, such as e-commerce web sites. Marketing research relies on other sciences as well, such as psychology or sociology.
Being able to develop the products consumers need, and then market them in accordance to the consumers’ behavior lay the basis for competitive advantages and shape the strategic decisions a business must make. 2. Observational and quasi-observational techniques Observational techniques involve direct observation of phenomena (in our case, customers’ behavior) in their natural settings. Observational research might be somehow less reliable than quantitative research yet it is more valid and flexible since the marketer is able to change his approach whenever needed.
Quasi-observational techniques are reported to have increased in usage over the past decades, due to the large scale employ of surveillance cameras within stores. Such techniques cost less than pure observational ones since costs associated with video surveillance and taping are far lower than a searcher’s wage; the tape can be viewed and analyzed at a later time, at the marketer’s convenience. When performing videotaping of consumers’ behaviors, they can be asked to give comments and insights upon their thoughts and actions while the conversation itself can be recorded and be further analyzed.
Pure observation: The marketer watches behavior of customers in real-life situation, either in situ or by videotaping the consumers (less intrusive). Videotaping can be specifically recommended when studying patterns of different cultures, since we can easily compare behaviors taped and highlight similarities and / or preferences. Archival measures: Archival measures can be any type of historical records, public records, archives, libraries, collections of personal documents etc. Such data can prove to be of great use in analyzing behavioral trends and changes in time.
Marketers can also identify cultural values and attitudes of a population at a given moment by studying mass media content and advertisement of the timeshare questioned. Protocols: Protocols are yet another observational marketing research technique which asks respondents to think out loud and verbally express all their thoughts during the decision-making process. Protocols are of great value for determining the factors of importance for a sale and they can be collected in either real shopping trips or simulated ones. 3. Projective techniques Such techniques are based on the respondent’s performance of certain tasks given by the marketer.
The purpose is to have the consumers (respondents) express their unconscious beliefs through the projective stimuli; to express associations towards various symbols, images, signs. Cooper (1996) suggested that projective techniques can be successfully employed to: – indicate emotional and rational reactions; – provide verbal and non-verbal communication; give permission to express novel ideas; – encourage fantasy, idiosyncrasy and originality; – reduce social constraints and censorship; – encourage group members to share and “open up”. Projective market research techniques can take the following forms, presented below.
Collages – used to understand lifestyles and brand perceptions, respondents are asked to assemble a collage using images and symbols from selected sets of stimuli or from magazines and newspapers of their choice. Picture completion – certain pictures can be designed to express and visualize the issue under study and respondents have to make associations and / or attribute words to the given pictures. Analogies and metaphors are used when a larger range of projection is needed, with more complexity and depth of ideas and thoughts on a given brand, product, service, organization.
The respondents are asked to freely express their association and analogies towards the object being studied; or they can be asked to select from a set of stimuli (e. G. Photos) those that fit the examined subject. Psycho-drawing is a technique that allows study participants to express a wide range of perceptions by making drawings of what they perceive the brand is (or product, service). Personalization consists in asking the respondents to treat the brand or product as if it is a person and start making associations or finding images of this person.
This technique is especially recommended in order to understand what kind Of personality consumers assign to a brand / product / service. These techniques of marketing research put an accent on verbal communication and they are efficient especially when trying to discover underlying attitudes and motivations towards a product or a specific market / consumption situation. Individual in-depth interviews are performed on a person-to-person environment and the interviewer can obtain very specific and precise answers.
Such interviews are common in BIB practices Of market research, for example when a company conducts a research about a product among their existing corporate customers. Analysis the data Marketing research in small businesses and nonprofit organizations Marketing research does not only occur in huge corporations with many employees and a large budget. Marketing information can be derived by observing the environment of their location and the competitions location. Small scale surveys and focus groups are low cost ways to gather information room potential and existing customers.
Most secondary data (statistics, demographics, etc. ) is available to the public in libraries or on the internet and can be easily accessed by a small business owner. Below are some steps that could be done by SEEM (Small Medium Enterprise) to analyze the market : 1. Provide secondary and or primary data (if necessary); 2. Analyze Macro & Micro Economic data (e. G. Supply & Demand, GAP,Price change, Economic growth, Sales by sector/industries,interest rate, number of investment/ divestment, 1/0, ICP, Social an Allis,etc. ); 3.
Implement the marketing mix concept, which is consist of: Place, Price, Product,Promotion, People, Process, Physical Evidence and also Political & social situation to analyze global market situation); 4. Analyze market trends, growth, market size, market share, market competition (e. G. STOW analysis, B/C Analysis,channel mapping identities Of key channels, drivers of customers loyalty and satisfaction, brand perception, satisfaction levels, current competitor-channel relationship analysis, etc. ),etc. ; 5. Determine market segment, market target, market forecast and market position; 6.
Formulating market strategy & also investigating the possibility of partnership/ collaboration (e. G. Profiling & STOW analysis of potential partners, evaluating business partnership. ) 7. Combine those analysis with the Seems business plan/ business model analysis (e. G. Business description, Business process, Business strategy, Revenue model, Business expansion, Return of Investment, Financial analysis (Company History, Financial assumption, Cost/Beneficially, Projected profit & Loss, Scofflaws, Balance sheet & business Ratio,etc. ).
Note as important : Overall analysis is should be based on AWE+1 H (What, When, Where, Which, Who, Why and How)question. Applying market research to improve sales and win over customers . Determine your target market One of the most common traps in developing a new product or service is assuming it will fulfill a market need. Customers are finicky creatures and want products that suit them perfectly. Creating a product or service you think people will want can spell disaster. Before launching a new product or service, it is essential to know: 1.
Who has a real need for the product or service I intend to sell? 2. How many potential consumers are out there? 3. Where are my potential customers located? 4. How much would they be willing to spend on my product or service? 5. Will my product or service save money or make money for customers? 6. Why will they buy my product or service? 7. By identifying your target market, you will be able to evaluate the viability of your venture and make the necessary enhancements to increase sales. Target market definitions also feed into the development of your promotional and sales strategy.
By understanding your market, you are less likely to waste your advertising dollars on promoting to the wrong demographic. And by understanding your market you will know which benefits are conducive to sales and which will facilitate more effective selling strategies. Once your target market is defined, further market segmentation can be undertaken which is the foundation for marketing and advertising strategies. Regularly redefine and review your market Another common business trap is to have previously identified your market and assumed it was set in stone.
Chances are your market will keep changing due to emerging industries, new technologies or even changes in company decision makers. Redefining and reviewing your market should be undertaken regularly. By fully understanding your target audience you will have the ability to develop a relationship with it. This relationship can bring mutual and substantial benefits to both parties. From your knowledge, you will be more cap able of foreseeing market trends and identifying market opportunities. This will enable you to provide further products and services to fill market gaps.
Undertake either primary or secondary research, or both Primary research (from original sources) involves gathering actual data among those using or likely to use your product or service. Questionnaires, in-depth interviews, focus groups and observation are all used to uncover information. This usually involves commissioning a market research company r consultant to conduct research. Secondary research (from printed sources) is data collected and produced by others such as trade associations, publications or the Government (e. G. Census data). This method is less time consuming and more cost effective.
However, the data may not fit your product or service accurately enough, resulting in misleading analysis and bias. In untapped or niche markets, all the secondary data in the world will be of no benefit to you. 2. Know your customer inside out Research has found that it is five times more expensive to win a new customer than keep an old one. Typically, repeat and referral business accounts for 60-90 per cent of revenues. With this in mind, it is imperative tattoo spend time and energy uncovering what your customers think about your product or service (as opposed to what you believe they think).
Evaluate customer expectations There are two separate elements that exist in your product or service. The tangible product features (positives, negatives, benefits etc) and the intangibles such as the standard of customer service and after-sales care. Ensuring that what you offer exceeds your customers’ expectations in both of these elements is imperative to your success. Customers can be a tough lot to please. The modern consumer is demanding and makes purchase choice notes on product benefits, but also on the way they are treated.
Providing the best product in the marketplace will not guarantee success if your service is poor. If you are not in regular contact with your customers, market research is essential in evaluating their perceptions, expectations and satisfaction with your product. These factors are the heartbeat of your business. The more you know obituary customers, the better off you will be The most crucial time to undertake this research is during an economic untrue when competition for the customer’s dollar is high. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, conduct some valuable market research.
Your competitors will no doubt be curtailing their market research effort, so the more you know about what your customers (and your competitors’ customers) think, the better off you will be. The most appropriate research to understand your customer is a ‘customer satisfaction study’ that uncovers attitudes to both your product and service. 3. Know thy competition It sounds obvious, but it is vital to know what your competition is doing or planning to do. Competitive analysis is the only way to gather competitor intelligence, yet few businesses undertake competitive analysis on a regular basis.
Competitive data is usually collected during business and marketing plan development or before the launch of a new product or service. To be competitive, you must focus on what you do better than your competitors (such as better product quality, better price, better distribution). By sharpening your edge, you can exploit your most marketable advantage. Competitive analysis should be regularly monitored This does not necessarily mean big dollars. The Internet is a great resource or information. For example, the Australian Stock Exchange website (www. Ass. Com. U) has a company research search engine for listed Australian companies. The Dun & Broadsheet website also offers company information, both fee-based and free at whom. DNA. Corn. AU If you need more detailed research such as what your customers like or dislike about your competitors’ products or services, you will need to implement a market research study. 4. Manage your database As a market researcher, the most surprising thing to learn when working with companies, no matter how big or small, is how little emphasis is placed on maintaining customer databases.
Databases are a goldmine of customer information The collection of data is vital to understanding your customer profile. By using your customer data more effectively, new products can be developed more efficiently and a more cost effective direct marketing campaign can be achieved. A comprehensive database will even end up saving money as you will not have to commission a market research agency to unearth the information for you. If market research is needed, you can reduce the costs of recruiting participants for focus groups or interviews if you have up to date contact details for your customers.