As a researcher at Coral Research Services, my work involves understanding consumer psyche, need states and deriving insights based on their behavior and responses to stimuli. Thankfully, I receive a lot of exposure to the various research methodologies and training to help understand how to decode what I hear and see during the consumer interactions.
Here’s a bit about my tryst with consumer research:
The first time my curiosity about consumer insight and consumer research was piqued, when I worked on a dissertation as part of my undergraduate course in marketing. The topic of my study was ‘Understanding the impact of advertising on women psyche’. As a student, I randomly interviewed women in malls and came back concluding that the impact was insignificant. Of course, this was a rather unstandardized way of researching, but then this small project increased my curiosity. Indeed, what do consumers think about all this communication directed to them? I soon realized that products are manufactured for consumers and the communication around it should also be according to consumers’ needs / pain points. Or, otherwise, a need had to be ‘created’ for them.
Here are some of my own observations while working at Coral Research :
- The most popularly employed research methodology data gathering tools are Focused Group Discussions & Depth Interviews. These interactions are ideal for generating consumer insights.
- In order to understand consumer buying behaviour & decision-making, Shop Observation, Mystery Shopping and Shop Alongs give a clear picture of consumer choice for products in retail outlets.
- I found that Consumer Immersions were commissioned by Brand managers – those who wish to step into their users’ shoes, interviewing them in their natural surroundings.
- Workshops are best suited for idea generation or when product prototype evaluations need to be undertaken with consumers
- Vox pops are done in crowded places like markets, malls, outside cinema halls to take instant reaction of random people about certain topics. I personally believe that you get good spontaneous reactions if you ask them the right questions.
There may be many more research methodologies that I have not been exposed to, which might include digital, software and lot more, but the bottom-line is that the right research methodologies when coupled with insightful analysis, has always helped clients to arrive at actionable solutions for their marketing problems.
Now the question is, why do companies go for consumer research and invest so much capital on it? The answer is that it provides a solid base for creative ideas to target consumers. This is contrary to an oft-held assumption that consumer research kills creative ideas.
I do believe that research can provide the marketer with a good sense of whether the communication is able to deliver on the key desired objectives or not, or whether the proposed creative idea needs some fine-tuning to be more effective. Mere creativity alone, is not enough to woo a consumer if it is not backed strongly by a relevant insight. And qualitative research allows us to delve into the consumer psyche and unearth these insights.