A blog from the laptop of Chris Efken…
I love when qualitative research delivers insights far beyond the study objectives. I recently conducted what I, and my client, thought would be a straightforward concept study. We asked six groups of consumers—2 of prospects, 2 of current brand users, and 2 of competitive brand users—to evaluate four positioning territories in terms of personal relevance, language, believability and appeal. At the conclusion of the sessions, it felt as if we had uncovered more questions than answers. Each session yielded dramatically different findings, with no single concept rising to the top or falling out of contention. Even among each segment there was no consensus. You know that you face a challenge when, upon the conclusion of the last group discussion, the client says to you “I’m glad that I don’t have to be the one to make sense of these learnings. Good luck writing the report for this project!”
Yet, the task wasn’t nearly as overwhelming as anticipated. When I reviewed the recordings and transcripts, and listened to each individual’s personal stories and his/her specific reactions to the concepts, it became evident that the findings aligned by segment, but not the segments we recruited. Rather, participants’ personal stories, category perceptions and life experiences could be clustered into five distinct need-state segments. And, at least one participant in each focus group represented each of the new segments. So, by cutting the data a little differently and creating user profiles, it made it much easier to identify the concepts that resonated with each need-state segment and create separate concepts and campaigns targeted at each of these cohorts.
Though the objectives of the research were simply to optimize the concepts and identify those with the greatest potential, we learned so much more about the consumer, their lifestyles, and how to connect with each segment to build a more personally relevant brand.