If you’re a brand looking to keep up with today’s ever-evolving consumers, you’re likely aware of how critical it is to glean primary learnings and test concepts with your customer base. Many brands base their development and innovation efforts on critical assumptions. However, the issue with assumptions is that they can be dangerous, even when just the slightest bit off-base. And making the wrong assumptions can get a brand into big trouble.
The best way to mitigate that risk? Ensuring your customers weigh in early and often.
But if you think traditional research and recruiting methods are the only way to test your assumptions, think again. A common misconception when it comes to conducting customer research is the belief that it is always A) time-consuming and B) costly. We’re here to let you in on a little secret: it doesn’t have to be. There’s another way to generate customer insight and feedback—one that can save time and money, all while garnering meaningful ROI for your brand.
The key to untraditional, yet effective, iteration and innovation lies in taking an approach that is both smart and scrappy. This method acknowledges that there should be no reason—not even a lack of resources—preventing you and your brand from gaining insight and gauging customer preferences.
While we are by no means proponents of abandoning thorough, traditional research processes, we are also realists. We understand engaging formal recruitment agencies and conducting four days of in-facility focus groups isn’t always in the budget. That’s why we’re sharing some of the smart and scrappy methods we’ve deployed for clients when conducting traditional customer research wasn’t an option.
No access to a recruitment database? No problem. Oftentimes, the insights you’re seeking are walking past you on the street, or even standing right next to you at the grocery store. Intercepts are a great way to collect real-time, in-context learnings directly from the types of customers you’re hoping to engage. When working on a brand refresh and packaging redesign for Scott’s Liquid Gold, we intercepted customers and employees at home improvement chains, allowing us to gain quick and honest at-shelf insight.
With intercepts, you’re likely to gain more authentic reactions when you’re unhindered by the types of sterile environments and engineered interactions that often accompany traditional research methods. Just think: your neighborhood coffee shop or hardware store could likely double as your personal consumer research facility.
In-homes are the traditional focus group, reimagined–a new twist on an old favorite (ala Tupperware parties for the modern age). Just as the handle suggests, in-home research involves engaging a single target customer as the research “host”. This individual serves as the entry point to engaging friends, family and other like-minded individuals within a similar demographic and geographic target as the host, and conducting an informal, discussion-based group session in the comfort of the host’s home.
Deploying this approach for clients such as Keurig and Wobble Wedge, we’ve been able to reduce recruitment efforts, leveraging target-aligned contacts of the host customer, and created safe, comfortable spaces for participants to freely express and share authentic and unfiltered ideas over food, laughs (and often a drink or two).
Crafting, coding and collecting data for a research survey has long been perceived as a daunting prospect—but today, democratized, do-it-yourself tools like SurveyMonkey make it easy—empowering just about anyone to become a master of A/B testing and data analysis. One of our primary uses for surveys is when we need to quickly validate and optimize messaging or creative concepts. That’s why SurveyMonkey is our go-to tool for our work with VisitDenver’s annual ad campaign, allowing us to tap a broad range of target types and geographies through the power of a single survey link.
What you may lose from nuances gained face-to-face during intercepts or in-homes, you make up for in greater sample sizes, rapid results and quantifiable learnings.
While these are all great methods for data and information gathering—especially when time is of the essence—the power of the information lies in the ability to connect all of the inputs and weave them into cohesive insight. Although cheaper and easier to conduct than traditional methods, they are not without the dedicated effort and commitment to implementing the information through actionable insight, ensuring the voice of your customer is always heard.
For more information and inspiration on our approach to agile branding, check out our bundled solutions, designed to quickly help brands navigate the evolving landscape.