Online market research: an essential tool for marketers.
What are the advantages of online market research?
Online market research provides valuable insight into our consumers’ minds. The more data we have, the easier it is to create highly effective, accurately targeted marketing strategies.
There are three main purposes behind conducting this type of research:
Understanding your target customer:
knowing how your target audience thinks, what they feel, and what they value can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to new product ideas, developing a marketing strategy or converting visitors into customers;
Understanding customer behavior:
learning the factors that influence buying patterns, how your customer shops and why they choose a product or service can help you provide a better customer experience;
Finding new opportunities:
with market research, you can analyze buying patterns in the market and create a more successful strategy for brand positioning.
Online market research: the do’s and don’ts.
Some companies, however, make costly mistakes by either conducting the wrong type of market research, asking the wrong questions, or not doing enough research altogether.
Here are some examples of how some well-known marketing disasters could have been avoided:
In 2004, Coca-Cola took launched a new sub-brand called ‘C2’, a mid-calorie, low-carb beverage. Despite a $50 million marketing budget, the product launch failed miserably.
C2 was backed by a lot of market data about diet trends and target audience preferences. So where did the product go wrong? Coca-Cola failed to ask the right questions of the right audience.
The right questions are ones that identify not only what people like, but also what they don’t like. Asking the right questions help to create a more specific picture of who the target audience is and exactly what they are looking for.
2. Consider the competition
Capturing information about your competitors is just as important to your product strategy as gathering data from your customers. This is particularly when it comes to identifying how your product will sustainably differentiate itself in the market.
Zune, Microsoft’s attempt at competing with the iPod, targeted a very narrow market and appeared to have very little difference to their competitor. Microsoft discontinued the failed product in 2011 after losing hundreds of millions in investments.
Tesco’s attempt to win over America with their new supermarket “Fresh & Easy” unfortunately flunked.
From the misleading name (their products were apparently less than fresh), to their unwillingness to embrace the essential American “coupon culture”, Fresh & Easy clearly didn’t do their research. It is essential, especially when branching out to other countries, to fully research your target market. This includes researching any cultural differences.
The right type of research
Many companies often rely on quick and easy surveys and focus groups which are low effort and inexpensive.
However, the issue with focus groups is that they cannot always provide reliable insights into whether a new development becomes profitable. For example, the group dynamics can create a bias, as some participants may be louder than others who end up keeping their real opinions to themselves. Often, people do not always express their true views in order to fit with the majority, or are not even aware of how reliable their values are.
Some participants may be overly sceptical, rejecting new products unless they have been tried and tested by others already. Emotions also play a huge role on purchasing decisions, which artificial survey situations cannot address.
Finally, the focus group moderators may have intentional interviewer bias. This unfortunately leaves these explicit research methods redundant and unreliable.
What is the ‘right’ type of research?
The most successful companies are twice as likely to perform market research as bottom performers.
If you have decided that market research is right for your business, the next step is to choose between traditional or implicit online research.
Implicit Reaction Time (IRT) tests measure the strength of associations between the concepts that are stored in the brain. For example, when we think of the brand Apple, it will subconsciously activate related concepts, such as the iPad, Steve Jobs, the iPhone, and the sense that it is a stylish brand. This happens in a split-second and below the level of conscious awareness.
In an implicit test, respondents do not make explicit choices; this is an objective measure. The data is based on implicit reaction time tests that flash words and images on the screen that respondents have to react to as quickly as they can. It is very difficult to fake, which results are more accurate, reliable and give better insight into respondents truer feelings towards a brand or product, for example.
An example of one of our IRT tests:
To learn more, or see what we can do for you today.
Online research can reach almost anyone in the world through either a desktop computer or a smartphone and include qualitative, quantitative or neuro-implicit questions. Learn some other advantages of this model below:
1. Quick data collection
With the current technology, the process of collecting data online has become much faster. Results can start arriving in a matter of minutes and it’s very common to fill your quota within a day or so.
2. Analysis in real-time
During the research, you can follow the data in real-time, through the preview of charts and start the analysis as soon as the target sample is reached.
3. Target group screening
If you need to interview a specific audience, it’s possible to screen in which respondents you want for a research. As a result, this allows you to quickly find the right group and not waste time screening out respondents one by one.
4. Affordable costs
Since online market research eliminates the need for interviewers and phone calls, the cost per respondent is considerably lower. Even if you need a large sample size from the general population, the costs are still more affordable than traditional research.
5. Response quality control
There are many techniques that help identify low quality responses in market research, which don’t offer reliable data. We can use techniques to detect inattention and poor engagement and, if necessary, report the responses to panel providers.
6. Digital Possibilities
The current rapid download speeds mean that respondents can assess a wide variety of formats, from their own home. Other possibilities are simulating out-of-home experiences, product engagement and even mimicking aspects of consumer behaviour.
How does it work?
The first steps to conducting online market research aren’t much different from traditional methods, as you can see below:
- Define the problem:
Market research serves the purpose of solving a business problem. Business questions or problems can become your research objectives. “Are my clients satisfied with our service?”, “How can I increase sales?”, “What does the public really think about my brand?”
- Define the target group:
Direct your research towards the right people, your target group, by thinking about what type of profile you need. What do they have in common?;
- Write the questionnaire:
The questions should be dynamic, clear and objective, with a wide range of alternatives. The questionnaire shouldn’t be too long or cover too many topics to avoid confusion. Make sure to test it thoroughly;
- Data collection:
You can collect the data yourself through a marketing list or hire respondents from a recruitment agency. One is a good option for a satisfaction survey with your own clients, while the second is better if you need neutral and impartial respondents.
The process of research with a recruitment agency happens as shown below:
It’s very tempting to assume we know what our customers want, but these are biases in action. Intelligent decisions can only be made based on information. With market research, you don’t have to rely on guesswork; any assumptions are proved or disproved by accurate data instead.
With online market research, you have an affordable, quick and efficient option that will provide your brand with important insights even when interviews in person aren’t available for a number of reasons.
To learn more, or see what we can do for you today.
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