Archive for the ‘Case Studies’ Category

Qualitative Insight: 5 Consumer Food Truths That Just Don’t Change

Posted on: February 28th, 2017 by doyle


From the desk of Carole Schmidt

The qualitative strategists at Doyle Research have spent countless hours with your shoppers/users.  We’ve observed Millennials ordering dinner on smartphones, shopped alongside couples choosing among brands at the grocery shelf, witnessed moms preparing snacks and meals, even chatted with gamers stealing from their secret stashes of treats at midnight.

Putting our trained brains together, we have noted remarkable consistency in 5 food attitudes and behaviors across food projects, year-to-year:

  1. Taste remains king. While we are seeing the penetration of healthier eating buzzwords among those who, 5 years ago, wouldn’t have known their non-GMOs from their “clean ingredient list”, we’ve also seen consumers’ real pantries and refrigerators. They’re not yet willing to compromise on taste.

Case study: Research to help revitalize a declining shelf-stable snack brand revealed that even the health-focused segment regularly rejected buying “light” versions of several snack types, and instead bought the full-calorie, but perceived better-tasting competitor with the intention of eating smaller portions (yet they didn’t!).

The take: “Tasty made healthier” trumps “healthy made tastier”.

  1. Consumers don’t read labels or packaging copy. In reality, most American shoppers rely on what they perceive your food to taste like using packaging photos, color palette, graphics.

Case study: A baking company sought to distinguish itself in the U.S. super-premium cookie category by featuring its unique product history through copy points. In “mock aisle” research, consumers overlooked the brand story in favor of the competitors’ delicious-looking photography. Research insights helped fuel a graphic “map” of the brand story, enhanced with cookie photos and iconic imagery.

The take: Especially as online grocery shopping increases, the more graphically intuitive your packaging can be, the better.

  1. Consumers believe that local tastes better. Consumers expect better taste from–and feel better about–your brand when your product includes ingredients produced in their state/region, or is associated with local people, co-marketers, or events. Consumers take pride in supporting their local economy.

Case Study: A beverage producer wanted to regain lost share in the U.S. south. “Deep dive” research into resident lifestyles uncovered unique market “insider” activities/events to sponsor, and language for more effective messaging.

The take: If you manufacture or package using local, state, or regional resources, promote it!

  1. Mini’s motivate! Whether it’s miniature versions, duos, trios, “pop-ables,” “2-bites,” or “flights,” shoppers typically perceive multiples of smaller pieces to be tastier, more fun, and to offer more control to the user than a single larger version.

Case study: A leading manufacturer of breakfast foods was looking to enter the to-go snack marketplace. Ethnographic research surfaced consumers’ compensating behaviors of breaking full size foods into pieces. Developing half-size versions generated significantly higher concept scores, perceptions of being healthier, expanded dayparts, occasions, and users for the food.

The take: Explore creative ways of going smaller!

  1. Foreign, yet familiar: Indeed, consumers want new taste experiences. However, when every aspect of a new food is, well, new, the niche adventurer interest may not be enough to sustain a business or brand. Average, everyday consumers trust and buy new products rooted in a familiar element.

Case Study: Our client wanted to strengthen brand engagement among Gen Y singles and families by contemporizing the beverage delivery experience. Consumers balked at a combination of new brands, new flavor varieties, and a new delivery method. Insights helped optimize the concept with existing beverage brands which reduced the perceived risk of trial, reduced capital investment, and increased excitement around the concept. Research identified improvements for service operations and sanitation practices, as well.

The take: Too much “new” at once may alienate more buyers than attract them. Increase consumer confidence and trial by grounding your product with familiar forms, flavor varieties, or formulations.

In sum, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Consumers are creatures of habit.   And habits die hard.

Going With Their Flow: A Qualitative Case Study of Practicing Engineers

Posted on: December 14th, 2016 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy Doylekmdiagrm

Carole Schmidt and her client, Lesleigh Campanale from The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), have published a case study in the December issue of Quirk’s Magazine.

IEEE is the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.   IEEE does a great job at meeting the needs of engineers working in academia, but to grow the organization’s value they recognized the need to do a better job of meeting the needs of practicing engineers in a corporate setting.   So they set out to learn about these engineers:  How do they work?  what are the processes they use to get things done? where are their pain points? What are those innate behaviors that people just do without really thinking about them when they are working?

In order to get to this level of specificity, it was decided that qualitative research should be conducted over time through the use of a digital app that allowed for mobile journaling.   Over several days, engineers were encouraged to record “what I am doing right now, and how I am doing it” with prompts for details as needed.  The results led to the identification of four emergent engineering work styles that led to the development of a target persona for corporate engineers.  The insights from this study are used everyday at IEEE to bring key learnings to various departments, and to assist in product development.

To read the entire article, click here

Kicking the Tires: The Automotive Path to Purchase

Posted on: May 14th, 2015 by doyle

From the desk of Alice Morgan

What We Did


In the Summer of 2014, Doyle Research and DrivingSales, an automotive dealership consulting and training company, conducted a comprehensive research program to diagnose the automotive path to purchase and enhance the dealership experience.   We used cutting-edge GPS technology to intercept auto shoppers, at the dealership, to get authentic in the moment insights.   In addition, video diaries, ethnographies, dealership shopalongs and webcam interviews were all utilized to uncover the pivotal dealership communication touchpoints at each stage of the buying process.   An online quantitative survey was then conducted with 1,300 new vehicle purchasers.

What We Found

Many new vehicle shoppers find the car-purchasing experience stressful and unpleasant. Over half indicated they would buy new cars more frequently if it weren’t such a difficult, intimidating and unpleasant process.

Game Changers

Dealerships have gotten slightly better over the years. The problem is, other verticals have gotten substantially better. Other categories provide unfiltered reviews, pricing transparency and a low-pressure retail environment. Car dealerships don’t.

Poor Dealership Websites

They’re cluttered, confusing, hard to navigate, and shoppers don’t trust the information provided. Over half of new car shoppers don’t visit dealership websites at all. Shoppers rely on third party sites instead.

Outdated Communication Practices

Nowadays people don’t want to talk to their nearest and dearest, let alone to a car salesperson. Dealership contact forms requiring phone numbers and sales strategies emphasizing personal contact backfire, particularly among Millennials.

Too Little, Too Late

The result of all these barriers is that car shoppers avoid interacting with the dealership until very late in the process. When they do visit they often have a poor experience with a salesperson they just met and don’t trust.

Ripe for Disruption

The system is broken due to lack of trust and changed expectations. Car dealerships need to rethink engagement, provide greater transparency, and forge connections with new car shoppers earlier in the process. Old school car dealerships are ripe for disruption. If they don’t change to meet the needs of today’s car shoppers, they will be replaced.

Want to learn more? Doyle is presenting this research next month at IIeX in Atlanta. Hope to see you there!


When Qualitative Research Delivers Above and Beyond: A Case Study

Posted on: April 9th, 2013 by doyle

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.