A new year with new opportunities on the horizon! Whether you plan to launch new products, reinvent old products, or reach new markets or audiences, make sure to keep watch of 5 key trends impacting product research this year:
TREND 1: THE QUAL/QUANT HYBRID
Face-to-face focus group interviews came to a screeching halt leaving many qual firms and focus group facilities questioning their future in the midst of COVID. Scores of qual firms and focus facilities closed, but many quickly (and somewhat hesitantly) made the move to online qual techniques and technologies to keep on top of the changing marketplaces. Video conferencing and blogging, online bulletin boards/diaries, social media and mobile became the norm- providing real value with real cost and time savings over traditional focus groups and qual techniques. Qual firms also found that talking to people in the comfort of their own homes allowed for more candid conversations- creating environments for more honest feedback, deeper connections, and the ability to infuse light ethnography that can further bolster insights and analysis.
And while traditional qual will always have its place, the shift to online has definitely made qual research more attractive and increasingly prominent for capturing consumer insight. Quantitative research still commands a majority share of budgets, however, we have seen a huge uptick for hybrid quant/qual research. Technology has made it easy to integrate both together- allowing for more agility, faster results and the ability to add more dimension to analysis that exceeds output from each technique individually. With the combined effort, clients more easily answer the “whys” and “whats” for more compelling insights for better decision making.
TREND 2: THE IHUT BOOM WILL CONTINUE
In-home use testing (IHUT) continues to be the preferred method of product testing over central location (CLT), particularly as circumstances have shifted as a result of COVID. Far fewer central location facilities remain in business post-pandemic, and consumer lifestyles have shifted as well. Brands are seeing the benefits- especially with IHUT experts like MarketView, who have streamlined their approach to make the overall process turnkey, efficient and more cost effective than a CLT.
MarketView’s CLT at Home can replicate the in-person experience, provide full geographic dispersion, reduce project timelines, and give consumers the flexibility to evaluate products in the comfort of home. Typical IHUTs offer a 30% saving over the cost of traditional CLT.
TREND 3: BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH TAKING CENTER STAGE
The customer experience is so fragmented. Customers are highly distracted- multiple touchpoints, devices, and channels have broken the more traditional (and fairly linear and consistent) customer journey. Couple it with the sheer amount of datapoints being collected everyday- marketers have it tough when trying to dissect what truly makes their customers tick.
But more so, marketers, market researchers, and creatives are turning to behavioral data to fine-tune their customer strategies and surveys. Behavioral data, specifically when following online customer journeys, helps get a handle on how consumers interact and engage online- delivering a truer picture of the customer experience. In a live, in-context survey format, customers can browse, click and interact with sites as if they were online- providing a real-world view on engagement. Data points such as intent to buy, clicks, percentage viewed, time viewed and others are more easily collected, providing insight on what consumers ‘did’ and not just what they ‘plan’ to do. Coupling behavioral insight alongside traditional insight provides a more powerful and holistic view of the customer experience- giving brands more ammunition to fine-tune products and creative to align with today’s consumer’s needs.
TREND 4: EMPHASIS ON PRE-TESTING SOCIAL ADS TO DRIVE ENGAGEMENT
Social ad testing has been around. But with brands competing on a multitude of channels, maximizing spend on the right channels with the right message and creative can help a brand win in the coveted social media ad space. They need to stand out. In the past, creative agencies and marketers based their next moves on what they know will work- from earlier ads and tracking. Today, brands are getting smarter- wanting to gut check creative before it goes live- ensuring the ads drive impact and engagement even before they hit the channels.
With tools like In-Context Ad Testing, brands can test ads in a real-world, live context like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and more. By seeing how consumers interact with their ads beforehand, brands can gauge ad impact and predict return on investment before allocating their coveted ad dollars. Understanding a consumer’s engagement helps inform creative next steps- giving brands the power to adjust ads based on feedback including whether consumers click, view, hover or skip the ad all together. This critical insight coupled with other traditional ad metrics (like overall appeal, uniqueness and fit with brand), can drive more effective social strategies that create maximum impact once live on their social channels. When these investments are made wisely, it can elevate a customer’s brand spend in the long run- further building brand loyalty, trust and lifelong engagement.
TREND 5: MORE CREATIVE AGENCIES IN THE MIX
It goes without saying market research and creative go hand-in-hand. Research fuels the right creative- allowing companies to hit their target markets with the right messages, at the right time, and at the right place.
Before, creative agencies were relayed these critical consumer insights from their clients- needing to dissect consumer data points (and let’s face it, creatives don’t love numbers), and develop creative that hopefully stuck. But today, creative agencies are actively in the mix with market research firms- either with their clients or speaking on behalf of clients, and also digging into the numbers a bit. Together with research firms, they are driving discussions around product trends, collaborating on creative from the start, and helping clients strategize around opportunities. We’ve seen this shift with some of our top clients- even collaborating directly with creative firms (without our client in the room!) to develop more secure direction and strategies to grow their brands. Once thought of as separate entities this has become a necessary marriage for brands to optimize products in today’s space.
Put MarketView Research’s nearly 25 years of product testing experience to work for you! CONTACT US to talk about your product testing challenges.