At the height of the pandemic, focus group facilities were primarily silenced, accelerating the shift from in-person to online qualitative studies. For agencies, this shift happened at a critical time for brands as COVID-19 and racial injustice cases spiked. The need to get a pulse on consumer sentiment was palpable as companies found themselves navigating the pandemic while showing solidarity for social justice issues.
As someone who has worked in market research for the past 20 years, it’s disheartening to see entrepreneurs and brand managers struggle with marketing campaigns due to knowledge gaps that could have been avoided with a simple market research study. Properly conducted custom market research is the common denominator in successful marketing campaigns. But, to some, conducting research is intimidating. To others, it’s too expensive, too complicated, or takes too long. Truth be told, market research today is none of those things. Coding and data tabulations done by hand are a thing of the past. Improvements in cost, timing, and ease-of-use have made primary research accessible to everyone.
So far, 2020 has been one for the record books. A worldwide pandemic and subsequent shelter in place orders are causing sharp spikes in online streaming and mobile search activity as consumers seek ways to stay healthy, entertained, and informed. And in recent weeks, the public outcry against social injustice resounds on the tips of the tongues of protesters, as they hit the streets and take to social media to express their outrage and find community. Taken collectively, these rapid shifts in consumer behavior are fast-tracking digital trends and accelerating the push for digital research methodologies to understand the dynamics driving these behaviors.
At ThinkNow we have the privilege of working with large organizations in both the public and private sectors. We’ve found that contracting in the private and public sectors varies considerably, and for good reason. In the private sector, contracting is fairly straight-forward since decision-makers don’t need to justify their purchases beyond their organizations. When dealing with public funds, however, the process often requires multiple steps and oversight. This works well when specifications are known and need to be exact, like when purchasing a new military aircraft engine or hiring medical personnel to staff a hospital. But what if the requirement is data? The Government Buys Public Opinion Research The U.S. population has and continues to change. Rapid growth is occurring among the largest population segments, Hispanic and Asian Americans, as well as those who identify as multi-racial. While the federal government has a significant amount of data on the perceptions and behaviors of the historical population, the data fails to address the unique thoughts and habits of today’s constituents. This gap often necessitates that the government seek research and survey data much like companies in the private sector seek data before a product launch. For example, ThinkNow was instrumental in assisting the U.S. Army in gaining insights into how Hispanic and African American populations view career opportunities available in the uniformed services. We further assisted the Army in understanding the efficacy of the government’s advertising and marketing program. ThinkNow has also helped the Small Business Administration during rebranding initiatives, the State of California’s Healthcare Exchange, and multiple state-run lottery programs. Understanding the Federal Buying Process Let’s look at a typical scenario where the federal government determines the need to seek outside assistance to fulfill the
In a perfect world, we would have the best information available at our fingertips when making decisions. But, that’s often not the case. While information is more accessible now than at any other time in history, it’s not always the right information. Missing or bad information could mean big mistakes when developing or measuring marketing campaigns. So, to mitigate the risk of missing the mark, many companies explore custom market research. But, accurate, actionable custom research requires knowledge, experience, and dedicated personnel to complete.
Brand strategists are tasked with knowing when to include market research in the scope of agency work for clients and with pushing back on the inevitable biases that arise in the agency when collecting and analyzing that data. Cognitive biases, the collection of faulty ways of thinking hardwired into the human brain, permeate almost every aspect of our lives. From anchoring to zero-risk, humans live and work with various types of cognitive biases that can impair judgment and stall progress, both personally and professionally.
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Attracting and engaging consumers paves the road to sales and revenue for companies. Of these consumers, one segment, in particular, will represent more than 50% of the total consumer base within the next 20 years. For companies focusing on younger consumers ages 18-29, this consumer will be more than 50% of all consumers in less than ten years. Chances are, your company, like most, doesn’t understand these consumers despite the significant impact they will have on your company in the future. So, how do you gain insight into an audience with so much potential yet no relationship with your brand? Would you turn to a company focused solely on this consumer or one with a department, or more realistically, a person that heads up a division within a large organization?
2.5 quintillion Bytes of data is created every day which would fill 10 million Blu-ray discs. These discs when stacked on one another, would measure the height of 4 Eiffel Towers, per Ben Walker of Voucher Cloud. Companies are scrambling to store all this data and data scientists are now one of the most sought after careers as we try to make sense of all of this data. The potential for big data to solve company, country, and global problems seems infinite.