Have you watched the movie Apocalypto?
It is an epic adventure film co-produced and co-directed by Mel Gibson in 2006. If you haven’t, please give it a try. Amazing movie and an astounding climax.
Wondering why I am babbling about a movie instead of telling you more about qualitative market research?
Whenever I think of leveraging the factors and resources around you for your survival, this movie comes to my mind. And survival is exactly the right context for market research. Qualitative market research platforms help you to understand and identify factors that are essential for your company’s survival. In both cases, it is the knowledge about your environment that becomes key to your success in business.
The movie shows how Jaguar Paw (well, the movie is based on a distorted view on the Mayan kingdom) and his entire village is attacked. Many are taken as hostages and put through utter brutality. Though the protagonist is brave and very capable, his hands are literally tied, forced out of his comfort zone (forest) and stays by helplessly until pretty much the end of the movie.
However, the very tone of the movie changes when he manages to escape into the forest. Even fate starts to favor him by sending a panther that helps him by eating (I know!) one of his chasers. Paw knows his forest and defends it with a slew of strategies that only he is capable of because he knows his forest like the back of his hands.
You know you are going to rule the place when you have become as comfortable and as confident as Jaguar Paw in your market. Harvest the relevant information and all you are required to do is to analyze it. Every business wants to woo their customers and keep them enchanted. You are no different. Spending millions and millions on numerous strategies are simply not enough. And when you have a pool of customers waiting to give you information, you missing it is an unforgivable and inexcusable mistake, for which you may have to pay a cost too high.
Market Research should be done properly or can mislead you in an entirely different direction. Used for maintaining competitiveness over the competitors, market research provides important information such as identifying your customers’ needs and competition. You can now take two methods to go on this research: you could use Qualitative research methods, or the Quantitative research methods to collect data. Obviously, the nature of the data collected through these two methods would prove to be different. While quantitative research data is more about numbers and finite information, Qualitative research data tends to favor the long, detailed information. And if you want to generate analyses that go beyond ‘how many people visit your website’, to ‘why did they come to your website’ or ‘why did they leave’, you have to choose qualitative research methods to go by.
Qualitative research is more than mere recording answers. Rather, it is about getting inside your customer’s minds. You don’t ask them what you did, you would be asking them why they did it. This helps you to develop in-depth insights regarding the customer’s behavioral patterns and gifts you a complete and meaningful customer profile to leverage your success. As important as it is to collect the right information, it is equally important to use it well. Customer experience is the newest star in the town. Mere satisfaction of the customers is not enough to lower your guards and relax. You are also required to deliver a pleasant customer experience. From walking into the showroom or visiting your website to making the purchase, everything should be hassle-free.
After-sale communication is also of much importance and this is when you get information regarding the actual performance of your product or company. You stand to benefit from a reality check. Customer experience is based on the perception of the customer about your company and your products. How would you find out such information? This is an area where quantitative research methods can’t take you far enough. It is about the feelings and opinions and emotions your customer has about you. In this article, I will walk you through the 11 delicious nuggets on qualitative market research.
This is the era of Individual marketing. Brands are running behind technologies and strategies that would help them to understand, engage and initiate on a one-to-one basis. There is no better way than that to stimulate an affinity towards their products through storytelling. A shift from the trackers and segmentation, the qualitative market research provides a fresh view with communities, debate forums, iterative market research surveys, and Data Management Platform (DMP) integration. There is certain information that can be drawn out only using qualitative market research and they are as the following.
1. What do your existing and potential customers feel about you?
This is where you should start. You have a company and you are launching products after products. If you want to market yourself you have to know the image that the customers have about you. Imagine that you are an MNC in the beauty care department. If your products are very costly or worse, if your potential customers think that you are beyond what they can afford, they are going to shy away from your brand. And if your target audience is geographically from third world countries, you are not going to flourish as much as you wanted. You need to clear up any confusion regarding your company or your products as fast as possible. Remember how Johnson and Johnson recently had to pay 72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox, whose death by ovarian cancer was unfortunately linked to her regular use of Johnson’s baby powder? They experienced huge revenue loss from customer churn. Sensing the changing market preferences, the brand quickly came up with a new campaign that convinces the market that their products are safe for even the just-born baby. They managed to steer away from the current and stay on top of the very waters that threatened to drown them.
2. Who are your competitors and why do customers choose you?
The interesting thing about this question is that most of the time the answer that comes from you and the answer that comes from your customers would be totally different. The competitor you had in mind sometimes wouldn’t even make the list. It is crucial to know who you are competing against with. It is quintessential to acknowledge why and how they became your competitors.
3. How good was their experience with you?
If the answers to this question come out positively you get to know what you did right, so that you can continue doing them with more passion and if it is negative, you know where you need to improve so that another customer wouldn’t repeat the same. Every customer is different and sometimes what you do works for some. This helps you to create insightful customer profiles
4. What do they like in your products?
Knowing this is truly vital for your product lifecycle. You will be able to market your products better if you realize where your products excel. Qualitative Market Research gives you what the customer is looking for in your products. When the Selfie frenzy started in the market, reading the pulse of the target audience, mobile phones shifted their focus to providing a better experience in that area from upgrading the cameras to selfie sticks.
5. How do they choose between different products?
This would tell you the specific needs and expectations maintained by your existing as well as potential customers. There are many companies serving the same category of customers. Why did they choose the shampoo they purchased? The answer to this can lead you to the specific need that was fulfilled by that particular product which no other product could. It could be money, accessibility or an ingredient in the product. Find out what that is, so that you can incorporate it into your marketing.
6. How do your branding, design, and packaging influence them?
Many a time it is the way of branding, designing and packaging your products is something that influences your market more than anything else. These factors build the brand image and thereby aids in developing emotions towards your product or your company. It is an age of environmental awareness and any entities that promote it is encouraged and given support without a second guess. If you have branded your company knowing this pulse, it could turn the wind big time. Branding your company as eco-friendly in a word is not enough though. You are expected to carry out that in all stages and aspects of your company. Such thoughts can persuade your potential customers to be associated with you since in a way they too can take part in it.
7. What sort of marketing strategies are welcome?
Though there is no negative publicity, certain marketing strategies can backfire horrifyingly. It is better to know and list them out before you commit any such practices. It could be frequent calling or spamming. Find out what can backfire and stay away from them.
8. How does the price affect decision-making?
Money is the spin on which the earth is revolving around us. Only the Richie-rich can stay relaxed and spent whatever they want without any regards to future. Such people are a minority anywhere thus making them less important while considering the price range for your products. Your customers shouldn’t feel that your products are very cheap or high priced. With qualitative market research, you will be able to battle them out and find a perfectly balanced price for your products.
9. Is there a demand for a new product or service?
It would not make much sense for you to launch product after product without any idea if anybody is interested to buy them. Qualitative market research can tell you what the customers are looking forward to. Maybe all their current needs are satisfied perfectly with your current product.
10. How loyal are they to you?
Qualitative market research specializes in finding out information from expert-made market research questions that brush up on such sensitive areas. Your primary focus as per the statistics should be on creating loyal customers rather than new customer acquisitions. This would tell you how loyal the customers are to your brand. If it is positive, hurray, do continue what you are doing, updating yourself now and then. If the trend is negative, you have to think about redesigning the customer loyalty programs according to your customers. Find out what they want. It could be a referral program or surprise rewards. Sometimes it could be your agents.
11. Why would your customers leave you?
It is an imperative qualitative market research question. This answer could tell you the weaknesses you have and the strength that another company has. It could be either of the cases. Only if you have a clear idea about the answer to this question, you can successfully fortify your company against such trends. Customer churn does occur and it is impossible to have 0% churn. But that wouldn’t justify a laid-back attitude when it comes to adopting timely retention programs.
Now that the 11 areas that are illuminated by qualitative market research have been discussed, let’s squeeze in some a few qualitative research techniques to collect these data that are very popular for their effectiveness!
- Individual Interviews
An individual interview is very flexible and can be conducted in person, over phone or Skype. Though Qualitative market research mostly follows an unstructured form, you should be prepared with a few questions ahead of time. You could then branch out the follow-up questions as demanded by your customers.
- Focus Groups
They are generally conducted in-person though with the help of technology many companies have started using them online. Focus groups provide a safe environment for the customers to talk about your products. The advantage of such focus groups is that you get to observe the non-verbal cues given by the customers unintentionally which can get you a deeper insight.
An observation of their shopping behavior in real time allows you to interact with your customers and also enables you to observe how the customers are reacting to your product. The body language and other non-verbal cues would reveal more than what you need.
Qualitative Market Research is a very extensive research method. It is not merely based on the quantity. The reasons behind the choices are encouraged to come forward to light. Quantitative data brings you the numbers but Qualitative market research can answer all your inhibitions and puts an end to your guesses. It prepares you to get inside the customer’s mind. If you can harvest and produce data-driven insights from this, you would master the art of anticipation. You would be able to predict customer needs even before they think of it or realize they want it.
It can be an eye-opening experience. You might think you know your customers well. But that is going to change completely once you have completed your qualitative market research and is left to update those customer profiles.
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