June 12, 2018

A different way of doing research

Written by Zinklar in #Research

The biggest advance in human technology by far is that it can now gather, process, and interpret massive amounts of quantitative data. But is that enough to assume we’re more knowledgeable or informed?

We’ve said it before and will say it again, market research methodologies are lagging behind and keeping to old-fashioned principles: soon they simply won’t work. Here’s how we think you should be using market research, and implementing it more frequently into your everyday.

First things first, Agile Market Research simply means you incorporate research ad-hoc, using it to validate or discard a hypothesis with your team on an “as-you-go” basis. How does it work? You keep in touch with your consumer: either through surveys or polls or frequent reviews of user experiences and opinions. You use a platform or service that allows you to send out frequent surveys to your desired target (that’s us!) and make sure to look at your Stats and set KPIs to guide your analysis.

1. Traditional research, more frequently and shorter

What? Make short surveys to check up with your consumer and screen concepts, creative processes, brainstorming, naming and branding ideas, etc.

How? Introduce check-points in your work where you tap into the target consumer and ask them: are we going in the correct direction? Would you enjoy this? You could do this weekly or monthly, depending on your team and your desire to communicate with your consumer.

Why? You’ll be able to ensure you stay connected throughout the product design, marketing plan, and launch of a new product, minimising the errors you make and ensuring you understand the motivations of your customer. You’ll be reinforcing the choices you make and minimising the risk in making them.

2. Innovation Workshops

What? Use surveys and questionnaires to understand your audience and get inspired. You can ask about creative associations, likes and dislikes, habits, beliefs or desires, and eventually re-test and compare once you’ve started the creation process.

How? When it comes to finding creative solutions to a problem, sometimes the best way is to let creativity flow and do an entire workshop of iterations between the consumer and your creative team.

Why? You’ll be co-creating with people, inviting creativity and randomness into a process that is usually exclusive to teams. Not only can you stay connected to your target and understand them more fully, you can also validate your ideas and ensure that your creative intuitions aren’t leading you astray.

3. Live Campaign Tests

Your media strategy is ready to go, you’ve bought the airtime and ad space and think you’ve identified your target audience, your campaign is minutely planned out, why shouldn’t your impact assessment be just as precise?

What? Audit your GRP impact, live. You can gather data within a representative sample of what percentage of people are seeing your ads, who is responding to them positively, understanding them with the nuance you wanted, and on that basis evaluate the returns of your campaign.

How? By timing your survey release with your marketing launch, and asking questions that will narrow the sample to people who have viewed your ad, you’ll be able to send out brand trackers and NPS like questions the results of which can be accurately associated to the specific moments in time, and isolated from wider brand events.

Why? Brand trackers, as they are, are a blunt tool that won’t be able to give you the fine detail and granularity you need. Doing real-time agile market research means you’ll be able to get an immediate impact assessment that isn’t diluted and scrambled by other events, and gives you direct answers.

4. By extension, On-Air Campaign Optimisation

What? You’ve released an ad campaign for which you have indicators and analytics that tell you how it’s going. But was your audience really watching, really remembering, did they get your message and were they receptive to it?

How? Don’t sidestep the people you’re actually interested in, whose opinion is actually important to you. By releasing research as your campaigns are live you can get a sense for your audiences’ responses and associations: and optimise as you go. It means your budget doesn’t need to be entirely spent on a strategy that didn’t go as expected, and that you’ll be able to redirect and adapt.

Why? Sometimes indirect data can and will obfuscate your conclusions. A good example is how Facebook counts views: they notoriously count 3 seconds of video (without sound on) as a view. That doesn’t mean your target will have understood what you want, but it will have inflated your indicators, despite not necessarily reflecting a reality.

5. Spit-fire questions to unlock any standstill

What? You’re wondering something, disagreeing with your colleague about it, or you genuinely need an answer to a question before confidently moving forward? You should be using (in some cases!) the voice of your stakeholders to understand whether they have information that’s relevant to you, rather than going in blind or making a decision that you’re not 100% behind.

How? We’ve already written about 7 different types of studies you could be doing in real-time, which can help you start out. Read the post here.

Why? What does this mean more specifically? You can just structure your doubt in three questions, for example, create a small graph, use it to generate more content, inspire your team, or to literally inform whether you should be selling your product in certain spaces, and what implications that has for your brand. It’s simple and fast, but it can make a world of difference.

Why is it important to change how we use and schedule market research?

We think data not only has the potential to give us deeper insights about the world but also improve it: making companies more efficient and consumer-focused. Consumers today are educated and self-aware, pushing for cleaner industries and ethical practices and demanding higher ethical standards for companies. Staying in touch with them is essential to be able to foster mutually beneficial collaborations, a utopian ideal that might as of yet seem far-fetched, but which we have no reason not to aim for.

We’re hopeful these steps could be making a small change in bringing the consumer to the heart of your decision making and raising your ethical and competitive advantage.

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