Consumer research is a method of gathering information about the needs, wants, and behaviors of consumers. It helps businesses understand their target market and develop products and marketing strategies that meet the needs of their customers. Conducting consumer research can be beneficial for businesses of all sizes, as it can help them make informed decisions about their product development, pricing, and marketing efforts. However, consumer research isn't just about quantitative data— to truly understand a customer base, this research must address the broader questions of identity, values, and motivations.
There are various methods to gain initial insights into a customer base, including online surveys, focus groups, and interviews. Each method has its own strengths and limitations, and the best approach for a business will depend on the type of information they are seeking and the resources available to them.
One popular method for conducting consumer research is online surveys. Surveys can be distributed to a large number of consumers through email or social media, and they can be completed at the convenience of the respondent. Surveys are useful for gathering quantitative data, such as demographics, behaviors, and attitudes. However, they may not be as effective at capturing more complex or nuanced information.
Focus groups are another common method for conducting consumer research. A focus group consists of a small, diverse group of individuals who are asked to discuss and provide feedback on a particular topic. Focus groups can be conducted in person or online, and they are useful for gathering qualitative data, such as insights, opinions, and emotions. They are much more valuable than surveys for gaining identity-based insights. However, focus groups may not be representative of the larger population, and they may be influenced by the presence of the researcher or moderator.
Interviews are also a useful option for conducting consumer research. Interviews can be conducted in person, over the phone, or online, and they allow the researcher to ask open-ended questions and probe for more detailed responses. Interviews are useful for gathering in-depth information about a specific topic, but they can be time-consuming and may not be practical for gathering data from a large number of consumers.
In addition to these traditional methods, businesses can also gather consumer insights through social media, online reviews, and customer service interactions. These sources can provide valuable insights into the needs, wants, and experiences of consumers, and they can be accessed at little or no cost to the business. Due to the fascinating mix of personal and professional information available via these sources, they are ideal for understanding the more nuanced aspects of a consumer base.
Most importantly, a business owner needs to do the hard work of diving into the consumer research to piece together the identities of these consumers as fully as possible. This complete understanding will help inform business strategies and decisions ranging from marketing and communication to pricing and policies.
The Storywork Guide to User Personas will lead you through this process to help you fully grasp who your customers are, how they interact with you, and how you can best serve them. And if this all feels a bit daunting, contact us and let us help you establish a firm foundation of consumer research for your business.
American Marketing Association. (n.d.). What is consumer research? Retrieved from https://www.ama.org/resources/Pages/What-is-Consumer-Research.aspx
Business News Daily. (2020, October 27). How to conduct market research for your business. Retrieved from https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/how-to-conduct-market-research
Hubspot. (2019, September 26). How to conduct market research: A step-by-step guide. Retrieved from https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-guides/how-to-conduct-market-research