When it comes to making a company profitable, business leaders need to understand their consumers. It’s vital that leaders understand what consumers want and why they what it. Before any leader begins the trek toward understanding his or her company’s consumers, they first need to understand what consumer insights are in the first place.
In a nutshell, consumer insights allow marketers to an inside look into what their customers need. By focusing on these needs, marketers can then work to fill a previously unidentified desires in the marketplace with new goods or services or, on the other hand, they have the opportunity better satisfy existing needs. Although the idea behind consumer insights is to ultimately help companies make money, smart companies utilize the information learned from consumer insights to provide products and services that their customers will not only want, but they’ll also benefit from them.
Companies can achieve great results if they utilize consumer insights to understand the pain points of their customers, then work to eliminate these factors that cause frustration or apprehension around brands or products. In other words, clever companies will create a symbiotic relationship between their consumers and their brand, such that both benefit differently but equally. Historically, consumer insights were derived from digging through massive amounts of data. Although data is still, and likely always will be, a crucial element to this process, technology has allowed companies to really venture into this century, and consumer insights can now come from a wide variety of places. Often times, companies will combine several methodologies in order to obtain the most accurate understanding of their customers possible. These days, marketers have a lot of options when it comes to obtaining consumer insights. The following methodologies can help companies understand more about their customers:
- Although this is where it all began, the fact of the matter is that statistical analysis is a tried and true method of gaining consumer insights and understanding customer behavior. Quantitative analyses, founded in studies that utilize controls and variables, are still important to these studies. In the collection phase of data analysis, study participants are often given traditional paper surveys or asked to take part in interviews. The data that is obtained from this surveys and interviews then undergoes rigorous analyses that allows the marketers to start to develop a ground-level understanding of their customers desires and thoughts.
Personal Experience. The idea that a brand’s employees can better learn about consumers’ needs, desires, and frustrations by walking a mile in their shoes is becoming a part of best practices. Consumer insights tend to be universally more successful for many companies that take the desire to understand where a customer is coming from to a whole different level. The concept is simple: One cannot understand the pain points of a consumer without experiencing the problems and frustrations first-hand. As a result, personal experience in the testing phase of consumer insight experimentation can play a vital role in helping marketers understand why a current product, service, or brand isn’t working as they had hoped it would. Putting employees into the shoes of consumers can often bridge the gap between “What we intended” and “What’s really going on”. Removing the goggles of perception is often the first way for a marketer to truly understand what needs remedied and can be the inspiration for some amazing changes.
Mobile Research. Traditional surveys still have a place in the world of marketing because they tend to measure the memorability factor of a product or brand. Because they’re generally administered after an experience, brand recall is one of the most measurable factors of traditional surveys, but they don’t tend to have a lot of value when evaluating real-time data. Today’s mobile technology has changed the entire idea of surveys, allowing marketers to obtain feedback from consumers in the real life environment. This feedback may come in the form of a question-and-answer session similar to traditional surveys, or it may utilize photos or videos that are so widely available on consumers’ phones these days.
Proper Placement. It’s no secret that proper placement has a huge role to play in the world of marketing. It is just as important to place study items in the right places to obtain consumer insight as it is to furnish the final product on the proper shelf. Take, for example, a company that is trying to test out a new baby body wash or a shampoo that is meant for new moms. Leaving a bunch of samples at a few pediatricians’ offices would be a lot more effective than, say, leaving samples on the counter of a liquor store. When test products are placed in the right locations, marketers have the potential to receive valuable feedback from consumers that fall within their target markets.
Approachable Employees. No marketer is going to get inside the brains of his or her consumers if the consumer doesn’t feel like he or she can be honest. The staff that is interacting with the consumers needs to be approachable and welcoming. Some companies deploy members of their staff to go shopping with their survey participants so they can build rapport with their consumers, see what they’re seeing firsthand, and obtain valuable, honest feedback as it’s happening. The more approachable the employees with which the participants are interacting, the more honest and useful the feedback will be. After all, it’s always good business practice to be seen as a company that actually cares about the input of its customers.
Heat Maps. Website development and design is just as vital these days as is product placement in a brick-and-mortar store. In today’s world, people have short attention spans, and consumers are often short on time, as well. For these reasons, online shopping (or at least browsing) is a substantial part of most customers’ consumption processes. Heat maps allow companies to get a whole different perspective on their consumers’ behaviors because the majority of the information that is gathered is completely subconscious. Eye-tracking heat maps can be particularly beneficial, as they allow companies to understand where a consumer’s eyes go first and where they stay the longest. This information can not only allow the webpages to be better positioned, but it can also help marketers understand what people are looking at and what they’re completely disinterested in. This, ultimately, can assist a business with bolstering sales of popular items when they’re repositioned optimally on a page, and it can help a company understand why products aren’t selling if they’re not being seen properly.
Gaining consumer insights is a vital necessity for today’s successful business. Gone are the days of simply sending out a survey and hoping they get sent back in. Today’s marketer has a cavalry of tools in the toolbox that can help him or her understand a company’s deficiencies, opportunities, and successes. If you have insights regarding how businesses can learn more about their consumers’ behaviors, talk about them in the ‘Comments’ section below! photo credit: Poster Boy NYC via photopin cc
Jure Klepic is a Digital Strategist who is willing to say what others leave unspoken. He leads digital and marketing adoptions for global brands and continues to drive change and spearhead innovation. Throughout his career he has worked with global brands from USA to Asia.
Jure is a recognized business and marketing thought leader, he is a speaker and a regular contributor to Huffington Post.