Posts Tagged ‘qualitative research’

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!

What do Millennials, Procurement, and Mobile Qualitative Have in Common?

Posted on: March 28th, 2017 by doyle

5 Micro-Trends We Are Noticing at Doyle Research

From the desk of Kathy Doyle

It all started with a question from a marketing consultant we hired to work with us on targeting and positioning.   “What’s happening in the market research industry that could have an impact on your business, and why?”trends

As I began trying to answer that question, I noticed some “micro-trends” emerging.   Not the biggies, like automation and big data, but some smaller ones with a day-to-day impact.  Here are five I noted:

  • The Millennial effect. As Millennials become a greater proportion of our clients, we have noticed two trends emerging:  1) they are far more likely to find us via an internet search than a referral from a friend or colleague.    This is completely opposite of what business looked like 10-15 years ago.  And necessitates changes in how we market and sell our services; and 2) “bigger is decidedly NOT better” when it comes to deliverables.    The days of 100-page reports being a tangible sign that a client has gotten their money’s worth are long gone.    Millennial clients are far more likely to want a handful of slides that are clear, concise, and highly visual.  I can’t blame them.   Information is coming at us all at top speed.  But as a researcher, this is difficult to accept much less deliver!
  • The resurgence of qualitative research.  For a while, clients were reporting that they were relying more on big data, social media research, and desk research.   Now we are hearing that there is simply no substitute for observing and engaging with customers first hand.   The pendulum has swung again.  And “why” is where it’s at.
  • The dominance of mobile research. Almost any method or technique we’ve used over the past 30 years is now being “mobile-ized”.   And should be.  It’s the way our customers are communicating in 2017.   We are using mobile for virtual shopalongs, virtual ethnography, in-the-moment intercepts (incorporating geofencing technology), mobile diaries, mobile homework assignments.    Mobile allows us to get closer to our customers when and where behaviors are occurring and decisions are being made.
  • The rise of procurement. As procurement departments become more common, they are impacting us in two ways:  1) delaying the start of projects, just when the trend is toward faster turnaround; but also 2) challenging us to better explain our value, since apples to apples pricing comparisons are difficult to achieve in qualitative research. Learning to understand the procurement mindset, and how best to work with them to achieve mutually acceptable outcomes, is of increasing importance.
  • The need to deliver faster, cheaper AND better. I wrote a blog post about this a year ago.   It used to be standard wisdom that you could only deliver two of the three, but never all three.   That is rapidly changing.  The emergence of machine translations, text analytics, video management software, DIY recruiting, automated incentive payments, among others, are making it not only possible, but imperative, that we strive to achieve all three.

The times, they are a changin’.    And we are learning to change with them!

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.

Qualitative Research: Through a Different Lens

Posted on: January 26th, 2017 by doyle

PrintFrom the desk of Kathy Doyle

I spent last week in LA at QRCA’s 2017 annual conference.   It continues to be the “go to” event for qualitative research practitioners who want to stay abreast of trends and share best practices with colleagues.

This year the theme of the conference was The Power of Perspective – looking outside our industry for insights, as well as observing our industry through a different lens.  Through five standout presentations, I gained insights from teen journalists, a radio show host, a comedian and theater major, an attorney, detective, ASL interpreter, visual illuminator, zoo director, storyteller, educator, conductor, social worker, and even a forensics expert!   Many thanks to Teen Press, Susan Sweet and Jay Picard, Laurie Tema-Lyn, Chris Kann, and Dina Shulman and Marc Engel for your fabulous contributions.

Five things I took away from the conference (plus so many more!):

  1. Talk less, listen more.    Across a variety of professions that listen for a living, some variation of that theme emerges.     Observe body language.  Mirror physical responses.  Empathize.   But stop talking so much!
  2. Resist the urge to fill the silences in an interview or focus group.  Sometimes sitting with the silence will reveal insights that simply take longer to emerge.   And sometimes a long pause is………… part of the answer.
  3. Look to Hollywood for storytelling inspiration.    View your report as a story, with a plotline and characters.  View the executive summary as a trailer.   Make sure your report features the equivalent of the “I want” song found in most musicals.   And, when appropriate, create composite characters (what we call personas) that represent key segments.
  4. Rethink the belief that maintaining objectivity is the best stance to take as a researcher.  Perhaps it’s OK to reveal parts of yourself–to be human, and to truly immerse yourself in your respondent’s world–to convey context and gain deeper, more authentic insights.
  5. Reconsider how we ask Q’s.  Consider starting specific rather than general, upsetting the funnel approach which has been our gospel. Perhaps that completely open-ended question is too open and leads to responses that are too broad to yield true insight.  And consider the value of asking your respondents to ask questions of themselves, rather than doing all the questioning.   You might be surprised at what you learn.

I walked away feeling energized and empowered to look at what we do, on a daily basis,  with a fresh perspective.

Building Rapport: A Key Ingredient of Successful Qualitative Projects

Posted on: January 17th, 2017 by doyle

rapportFrom the desk of Jo-Ann Ryan

During the course of my qualitative career, clients and colleagues have told me that one of my strengths is being able to establish rapport with people from all walks of life. So I would like to share what I have learned about fostering trust and encouraging candid responses:

Setting expectations upfront. This seems basic but it’s important. When the moderator informs respondents about what to expect during a qualitative interview or group discussion (e.g., the length, the topic, the purpose, recording of the research, observers/listeners, etc.), it increases their comfort level and makes them more likely to share their thoughts and feelings.

Showing respondents unconditional positive regard (UPR). A good moderator should convey to respondents that all perspectives and opinions are welcome and respected. It begins with the moderator’s belief and attitude that everyone has something to offer – an opinion, an idea, or an experience — a potential nugget that could make the entire project worthwhile. During introductions, set the tone by acknowledging each person by name and thanking them for sharing information about themselves.

Being genuine. I think respondents are more apt to respond honestly if they sense that the moderator is being open with them, and is being true to their own personality and style.

Realizing you can’t judge a book by its cover. It is natural to form an initial impression of people based on appearance, but the moderator and clients should not let it get in the way of listening to each person and believing that each person represents a unique perspective that has value. I have been pleasantly surprised by what I had initially expected from a respondent versus what they actually were able to contribute.

Having an open mind. It is not uncommon to begin a qualitative study with client hypotheses about what we will discover during the research (e.g., why customers are dissatisfied, which ad or concept will be most appealing). However, the moderator and clients need to be ready to accept differing ideas and perspectives that could potentially lead to a complete redo of an ad campaign or a major refinement of a new product concept.

The bottom line – establishing good rapport with qualitative respondents can yield valuable insights for clients, and respondents will feel appreciated for their time and willingness to take a risk and share their honest thoughts and feelings.