Posts Tagged ‘consumer insights’

Advertising Communication Checks: Valuable or a Necessary Evil?

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by doyle

adcommchecksFrom the desk of Kathy Doyle

I’ve been conducting advertising communication checks for over 30 years, and one thing has not changed…   most of the parties involved dread them. The agency doesn’t like seeing their creative work questioned based on input from a small number of research participants in an artificial setting.  The client does not like navigating the politics of getting the job done, all the while knowing the agency is less than thrilled. And no one really likes sitting in a back room, or in front of a computer screen, for hours on end listening to the same questions being asked every 20-30 minutes.

Yet there are some very compelling reasons why we continue to conduct communication checks:

  • To make sure we haven’t lost sight of who the target is, keeping our finger on the pulse of how best to communicate with them, and mitigate coming across as pandering or tone deaf
  • To make sure we haven’t missed the mark on messaging, and mistaking what we thought was crystal clear for a totally unintended meaning
  • To make sure the visuals support the message, rather than conflict with it
  • To make sure that brand/product recall is strong. It’s great if people love the ad, but if they don’t know what it’s advertising, what’s the point?
  • To optimize (or eliminate) executions prior to quantitative testing and/or final production. Why not find out if there are ways the execution can be tweaked to strengthen it before spending large sums of money?

Clearly, I’m coming out on the side of considering communication checks valuable.   To maximize their value, here are Six Tips for More Productive Communication Checks:

  1. Limit exposure to three executions per respondent, to prevent fatigue from clouding candid feedback
  2. Video storyboards with audio are acceptable; a complete video (albeit rough cut) is better; don’t make the consumer work too hard to see the idea
  3. Consider exposing the ads in a clutter reel to more closely simulate a real viewing experience and more accurately assess breakthrough
  4. Keep them 1:1 for the most honest commentary. People rarely watch programs or web surf with others, let alone strangers!
  5. Keep them short (20-30 minutes) to prevent over-thinking and to be efficient. We often do 12-18 interviews per day!
  6. Consider conducting the interviews online rather than in-person. When people are at home, they are more relaxed and more likely to provide candid feedback.  Use a platform built for research for the most problem-free experience.

One rule to keep in mind: Avoid using communication checks to kill a creative concept. Not only is the sample size too small, but the research is designed to assess communication not the core concept, so elimination is incongruous in this research context. Follow this one simple rule, incorporate some of the tips above, and the needle can easily be moved from “necessary evil” to truly advantageous!

Garbage in. Garbage out. The Need for Concept Optimization.

Posted on: June 1st, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Carole Schmidtsusana-fernandez-56313

I’m just going to say it. We see a lot of bad concepts.

Look, we fully understand that it’s not easy to create a compelling new product and seemingly impossible to carve out real brand distinction in crowded categories. And rocket speed-to-market means you’ve got six months to get this thing on shelf!  But, sheesh, too often we are handed concepts that are still being written as we’re performing participant introductions during the research.  In other real world scenarios, waves of team review, and legal’s approval, have created some real concept doozers, delivered to us researchers either diluted to mush, with the core idea buried in euphemisms, or wholly lacking a reason for being.

I’m just going to say it. Spending time getting the “test” concepts right is worth its weight in gold.

Checking in with your customer along the way, while you’re crafting those concepts, reduces the misses on the back end, saving valuable time and money. Several “presearch” avenues are inexpensive and fast and they will help you get to great concepts, faster.

Relate to a need: The most successful concepts address a real customer’s unmet need or compensating behavior. How do you discover those? Get out of the office to observe your customer in situ by going in-home or in-car.  Tap mobile journals or geofenced intercept interviews to capture and understand the customer experience at the point-of-purchase or use.

Reflect the language of the target to increase relevance: Yogurt eaters are particular about thick vs. Greek. Gearheads know what a four-banger is. Tap qualitative social media analysis to get a handle on the language your customers speak.

Understand concept-product fit: When you have a product in mind as well as a concept, go both ways. Explore your concept first among some and probe for product expectations. Investigate your product first among others, then probe how to communicate about it.  This is where your internal employees/staff can be of great help, formally, with a series of moderated on-site or webcam interviews, or informally, discussed around the water cooler or lunchroom at the office.

 Consider exposing the concept unbranded, too: Probe, “Is there an idea here?” independently of revealing the brand behind that idea to better assess the concept’s strength and the power of your brand as part of that concept. Branded and unbranded concepts can be rotated in online boards just as readily as they can be in focus groups.

Communicate as intended: “Gives you energy to take on the day” was meant to be a sustaining and satiety benefit, but in research it was also incorrectly perceived as a telltale sign of high carbs or sugar to many. Communication checks for concept clarity are efficient and inexpensive; they can be done in a day, in–person or online.

 I’m just going to say it again. Take your concepts as seriously as you do the rest of your research spend. Get your customer involved in optimizing your concepts before testing them. We look forward to your future successful concepts!

Will the Trend Toward Urbanized Seniors Affect Your Brand’s Future? Four Factors to Consider.

Posted on: April 12th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Carole Schmidt

If you’re not an urban dweller today, you will likely become one–within 15 years. In 1800, only 2% of the world’s population was urban. By 2014, 180,000 people were added to the urban population each day!  In 2030, 84% of the population in developed countries will be living in urban areas.  While economic powerhouse “megacities” have doubled from 14 in 1995 to 29 in 2015, the fastest-growing urban centers are small and medium cities — already accounting for 59 percent of the world’s population!

So, who makes up the fastest-growing population? As it turns out, that’s people age 60 and over, a group that is growing at nearly 3.7 percent a year globally—one quarter of each of the world’s urban regions is expected to be 60 or over by 2050!

Urban SeniorsWhat is happening in response to the emergence of the urban senior? What should you be thinking about for your brand? Are your brands positioned for success with this trend?

If you’re not exploring how urban populations might help or hurt your brand or business, you should be.  Here are four things to consider:

  1. More seniors are walking, biking, using public transit: This means there are increasing numbers of small businesses, local retailers and delivery services designed to meet the needs of this segment. E-commerce will continue to grow because it brings products and services to this population. Is your product’s packaging easily transported? Is your e-commerce strategy optimized? Are you looking at geo-located smartphone and kiosk advertising to replace freeway outdoor spends and conventional TV?
  2. Packaging that reduces waste is critical for urban living: Fast growing cities are aggressive about reducing future trash. San Francisco leads the U.S. with an 80% success rate at keeping discards out of landfills.  Keurig cups were just banned in Hamburg Germany. If you aren’t looking at reduced packaging by now, you’re already behind as urban restrictions increase.
  3. Personalized healthcare will influence CPG development: Medical needs of urban seniors will influence product successes and failures. Just as local “minute clinics” and home-based care are increasing, so are wearable medical monitors that will soon respond to product ingredients and features, warning users, for example, “no, too much salt or high in cholesterol,” or “reviews say this vehicle’s seat design yields poor back support.” How will your products fare as medical care, customer reviews, and products intersect more directly? 
  4. As urbanization increases, senior will favor more hedonistic pleasures and unique physical experiences as antidotes to the stress of dense environments. Global travel is expected to increase fourfold in the next ten years to help urban dwellers recharge. How and where will seniors engage with your products? As a replenishing snack after their local spin yoga class? Can your appliances be redesigned to promote a pleasurable experience, not just a functional one? Will urban dwellers find your product wherever they travel, reinforcing their loyalty to your brand?

Urbanization will produce economic, social, and environmental improvements. Don’t let doomsayers distract you from the opportunities before us. Prepare your brand strategy to work with the growth in urbanization. Giving thought to how you can engage and nurture today’s customers as they become urban seniors over the next decade may result in increased loyalists for a healthy brand future!

The Digital Age Demands A Steady Ideation Regimen for CPG Companies

Posted on: March 10th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid

Technology companies have set the bar high when it comes to expediency in new product innovation. What’s more, the products/services offered have contributed to a consumer mindset of instant gratification (in terms of shopping for and/or receipt of goods and services); and expectation for immediate and constant digital interaction with the companies from which they buy.

Interestingly, it is this perpetual customer-company communication nLDBlogPost1.ARTorm that is playing a notable role in new product demand within the CPG industry. As observed by Cisco Systems, Inc., “…the [CPG] shopper becomes a major driver of innovation through e-commerce, omnichannel retailing and mobile platforms. Based on the increasing demands of its end users, companies have found they must create new products, achieve faster time to market and lower operational costs to remain competitive”.1 Additionally, Cisco cites one in five consumers as saying they are always looking for new products, the implication being that innovative merchandise is a significant basis for growth.

To this end, ongoing, deliberate idea generation is of paramount importance. The benefits of creating ideas regularly – rather than once every few years – is threefold:

Assures relevant ideas are always in the pipeline: Today’s constant customer-company interaction provides opportunity for discovering a wealth of compelling consumer insights, with new and interesting points of view streaming in regularly. Routinely scheduled brainstorming sessions using newly discovered insights assures relevant ideas are always on-the-ready to test with consumers.

Allows for creative depth: Regularly scheduled ideation sessions focusing on a few insights at a time allows for richer creative exploration. The result is stronger, more compelling ideas for consumer consideration.

Encourages and maintains a large quantity of ideas: While you may only need one good idea, continually creating many is essential. Statistically of course, a larger number of ideas increases the odds of hitting on a winning idea. Equally important however is recognizing quantity as a divergence technique. When brainstorming, the obvious ideas come out first. By pushing for quantity, you break out-of-the-box and reach higher levels of innovation.

Maybe your pipeline is already packed. No matter. Run regular ideation sessions to assess, modify and build upon what you’ve got. Try looking at the ideas using new consumer insights or market findings as creative lenses. Create all the ways an idea might be changed or re-created to be relevant again, considering the new findings. Keep your company’s creative juices flowing and you’re sure to stay in step with your consumer and boost your bottom line.

 

1  Ó 2012 Cisco Systems, Inc. White Paper, Cisco Public Information

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

Posted on: February 28th, 2017 by doyle

1280x720-data_out_119_4996282-food-wallpapers

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.