Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

Revitalizing the Market Research Organization

Recent events have cause me to spend time on the topic of revitalizing market research groups within consumer product manufacturing companies.  The question at hand is "How do you go about the task so that it conforms to multiple companies as opposed to a specific company?"  The approach I settled on was that of a Building inspector.  That is, while the building inspector will look at the structure, utilities and the general use of the building, we in the market research organization would look at the organizational structure, resources and the research protocols and how they relate to the 3 Es of research:  Exploratory, Experimental and Evaluative.  I have written a number of Views on the topic of research protocols, so that leaves structure and resources.  Today I would like to focus on resources.

For the present, I would like to focus on resources without regard to internal vs. external assets.  Just eh ways and means necessary for effective consumer/market research.  Fundamentally there are two points of interest, the consumer and the customer or as many would say, "the trade."  While both are extremely important, I will focus on the consumer in this Views.  Just as there are the 3 Es of research, I believe there are 3 resource classifications in consumer research which match up closely, though not perfectly, with the 3 Es of research.  The 3 resources are:  large base lengthy time consuming studies, small base rapid research, and Assessment in Context research (both large and small base studies).

Large Base Lengthy Time Consuming Studies (Exploratory) - These studies are usually conducted in the early stages of research when the foundations are being laid for a new brand exploration or brand improvements.  These studies usually include Habits and Practices Studies, Consumer Needs Research, Brand Image Studies and Purchase Motivation Research.  The purpose of this research is to understand the Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? and Why Not? of the brand category.  Throughout the life of the brand, the research will be repeated to determine shifts in consumer habits and thinking.

Small Base Rapid Research (Experimental) - These studies are basically used to assist product development in the creation of the brand and to determine if the project is moving in the right direction.  These studies generally deal with attitude research, spot testing and use testing.  Speed is of the utmost importance in this area since we are dealing with many variables and therefore, so many tests that need to be considered in the development of the brand.  We need to maximize the acceptance of the brand to give it every possibility of success.  For example, there are usually many versions of formulations that need to be considered along with all the aesthetics that are necessary to enhance the consumer perception of the product.  That is just what is in the container.  We also need to consider the best possible positioning of the brand, the packaging, all the copy on the package and last but not least, the words, phrases, and visuals necessary in communicating to the consumer the solution to their needs, the Brand.

Assessment in Context Research (Evaluative) - This is probably the weakest area of research in most market research organizations.  From my point of view, it is probably the most important area of research in brand development.  The environment in which you conduct your research can have a profound effect on your data.  To this point, I believe that most pricing, package, copy and market viability studies should be conducted at the point of purchase, that is, in the presence of the competition in real stores among real consumers.  However, there are some package and copy research that should also be conducted in the home environment.

Do you have the resources in your tool box to conduct these types of studies?  Should you?

Sponsor:  Sorensen Associates Inc      Portland, OR  800.542.4321        Minneapolis, MN  888.616.0123
The In-Store Research Company

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