When 95% of new products fail, there are no excuses for guessing what your customers want. In times of financial turmoil, businesses and consumers are more modest when spending. And as brands reassess budgets in light of economic hardship, many may look to how they can optimize their insight solution.
But there are two things brands must have in mind when re-evaluating their budgets.
Firstly, insight is invaluable. More so than ever as customers are shying away from spending. Living in these liquid times, it’s never been so crucial to understand why, how, and what your target audience is shopping for.
Secondly, research doesn’t need to break the bank. It should make you money in the long run. According to this Forbes article, ‘to fully understand customer practices, attitudes, and sentiments, and gain inspiration for innovation and marketing, it pays to conduct qualitative and quantitative research.’
So how can you balance all three points of the research triangle to achieve high-quality results, quick turnarounds, and cost-effectiveness? Let us introduce you to community-led research.
The community model of research acts as a bridge between brands and customers, making collaboration effortless. You can be with your consumer in their every moment, rather than in the sterile environment of a focus group, allowing you to overcome the say-do gap. Whether it’s at work, at home, with family, in the store – wherever your customer is, you can be there with them too.
You can maximize your outputs with communities by consulting them for everything from quick polls for snappy decisions, right through to deep-dive exploratory projects for more in-depth results. Whether it’s concept development, competitor analysis, video briefs, product placement, consumer empathy, or more, a community-led research approach offers a solution that is more agile and cost-effective than a traditional agency.
Moreover, rather than the one-off, transactional focus groups with different groups of customers each time, online communities create consistency. And consistency births quality: through regular interactions with customer communities, clients can achieve meaningful relationships with their audience.
“Communities are good at plugging in those gaps in your knowledge, as well as the bigger, wider, more strategic questions.”
Passive consumers become co-architects of the brand, locking in loyalty. And consumers agree – one-third of Bulbshare’s research community says brands have become more like friends since the pandemic, and 88% of our global users said they want to be included in the decisions brands make.
Milly Chu, Senior Research Manager, says “Communities that are always on mean that clients have access to their customers at any time and about anything they wish. They can go to their customers with the smaller, everyday questions that they wouldn’t otherwise commission a piece of research for. Communities are good at plugging in those gaps in your knowledge, as well as the bigger, wider, more strategic questions – but with communities, it’s much quicker, much cheaper, and much easier.”
And Amoné Redelinghuys, Associate Research Director, agrees, “When an insight community is always-on, we can catch the consumer close to the moment and avoid reliance on memory and recall. Humans tend to sugarcoat. If you ask someone about a frustrating experience in the moment, they’ll answer with unadulterated honesty about their frustration. Ask them a week later and those emotions will have faded. In the moment there is no editing, no memory loss, and no fading of feeling.”
The world has gone digital – and insight is no exception. The pandemic accelerated what was already a burgeoning movement towards digitalization, and this transition online has unleashed a world of possibilities for interaction and connectivity between brands and consumers.
In this brave new world of online connections, digital customer communities have flourished. Brands have been able to connect with their audiences in isolating times through always-on channels – and when traditional, in-person focus groups were near-impossible, online communities provided some needed insight and interaction.
As this explains, Covid-19 has proliferated our need for connection, and brands that prioritize “humanizing the customer’s experience outperform their peers”. And, according to 51% of our insights community, brands are getting closer than ever to the consumer.
As we enter into a post-covid world, consumers are just as keen to get involved in these communities. 85% of our respondents prefer to do online market research.
Consumer truth is more accessible when focus groups occur online. Without the immediate presence of other consumers to sway them and the inadvertent peer pressure that might lead to bias, you can discover what consumers are thinking.
Moreover, the expenses and inconvenience associated with in-person focus groups are avoided online. Forget booking venues, buying lunches, and organizing travel – digital research allows you to get to the heart of consumer moments without hassle. Julia Brannigan, Associate Research Director, says “Digital really enables us to meet the agile requirements of modern research. Whereas with traditional research you have to find venues, online research can be done anywhere in the world, in any customer segment.”
How to gain cost-effective insights
Businesses should remember the value of video content. By encouraging your community of consumers to upload video responses, rather than text responses, you have a 360 insight into reactions. The limitations of self-report are eased: watching a consumer try your product gets you there with them witnessing their body language, their visceral and immediate response, rather than their edited, delayed written submission.
For fast turnaround, product, pack, or concept testing and reactions, run an image heat mapping project. Your consumers can highlight the areas of your ad or packaging that they like or dislike. They then can comment directly on it, forming a heatmap of feedback guiding your business decisions.
Laser-focused targeting of consumers gets you right to the target audience. Avoid the sin of admission by selecting only the consumers you need to hear from and avoid sifting through hundreds of unnecessary data points that just gather dust.