Capturing and keeping your audience’s attention means you must read the room and give them something clever and relevant to engage with. And consumer research is a secret weapon for marketers that prevents boring marketing, and inspires brands to create impactful campaigns, consistently. Your marketing is the public personality of your brand, after all. And brands that just copy others in their space are not impressive, nor memorable. Let’s make sure you don’t fall into that category!
Here, we’ll explore ways in which consumer research is a secret weapon for marketers, with a focus on:
- What is consumer research?
- The benefits of quality consumer research
- Preparing for consumer research success
Consumer research is an ongoing effort. Immediately after completing a killer campaign, it’s time for more of it. That’s because consumer preferences are constantly changing, so it’s critical to monitor your audience, so your messaging is catered to their current outlook. Here are a few things to think about going forward:
- Consumer analysis is commonly broken down into four segments: data discovery, exploratory analysis, action, and predictive monitoring phases.
- 70% of consumers prefer to learn about products through content over traditional advertisements.
- 61% of consumers are more willing to purchase from brands with unique marketing styles and content.
Now, let’s jump in and explore a few basics before heading into how consumer research can help you create more impactful messaging.
What is Consumer Research?
Consumer research can take many forms, but at the heart of it is the goal of understanding your consumers’ inclinations, intentions, motivations, and habits. It seeks to climb into the customer’s psychology by employing research techniques that reveal the wants and needs of your target audience. Additionally, it can help uncover potential audiences on the fringes that may be enticed to your brand with tailored messaging.
Qualitative consumer research methods include more traditional approaches such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups, which still have their uses. However, their most significant shortcomings are speed to insight and small sample sizes.
Comparatively, social listening is the new kid on the block of qualitative consumer research. Speed and sample size are no issue with today’s analytics tools running next-gen artificial intelligence (AI). And that’s why brands are turning to it in droves to capture consumer intelligence on the fly. Besides its practical use for protecting brand health, social listening is a game-changer for marketers getting to know their audience.
The end goal of consumer research is to create a deeper understanding of your target audience. You want to know what they care about and what influences them to make purchasing decisions. This allows you to target them with more personalized and relevant brand experiences.
Using social listening for your consumer research allows you to:
- Create a multi-dimensional profile of your target consumer
- Uncover interests, activities, and preferences unique to your audience
- Discover current events, trends, and attributes influencing consumer behavior
- Identify competitor’s customers who are dissatisfied and open to change
These insights offer guidance and clarity in your campaign-building strategies. Knowing precisely who your custom audience is and what moves them, you can avoid clunky messaging that doesn’t cater to their interests. And monitoring the social climate surrounding your audience over time ensures that you’re keeping track of the issues and needs they face as they arise.
The cool thing is, though, that the scope of consumer research can show you much more data surrounding your audience than just their topics of interest and demographic makeup. Social listening will also reveal the channels and domains they frequent and the authors, KOLs, and influencers that have their attention.
Therefore, you can find the top authors talking about vegan food products ahead of your new product launch with minimal effort. That way, you know who is speaking and what kind of messaging your audience is accustomed to already. And it’s also a handy list of potential influencers to help you get the message out!
This type of consumer intelligence allows you to tailor your marketing message for channels and authors using your social insights. It also shows when and where your audience is most engaged and with what content. Let’s look at a few more benefits you can expect for your marketing endeavors.
Consumer Research Methods
With both qualitative and quantitative consumer research methods available, it’s helpful to have a clear understanding of each as you plan out your efforts!
To sum it up: Qualitative research involves observational conclusions drawn from interviews, focus groups, surveys, and social media content. And quantitative research applies a more data-based approach to analyzing these sources.
The best solutions offer a hybrid approach that aggregates intel from both sources in one easy to use dashboard that’s accessible to stakeholders and analysts alike.
How Does Consumer Research Work?
The consumer research process itself involves many steps, including:
- Determining the research objectives and approach
- Collecting secondary and primary data
- Analyzing the data
- Preparing a report
The research objectives should be driven by your initial exploration of the industry landscape based on a loosely held understanding of the topic product or consumer base. Over-reliance on “known” issues can derail consumer research efforts
With this new overview of the topic in mind, brands then need to collect all relevant primary and secondary data to really dig into the specifics of the matter in the analysis phase. This collection can take too much time when done manually, so it’s important to have the ability to upload via API when that’s an option for unstructured data
And both unstructured and structured insight should be uploaded to your analysis tool quickly, to accommodate real-time reporting needs.
Analyzing the data is a task unto itself and one that must include aspect-based sentiment analysis. You’ll hear of many different capabilities available, but they’re not all created equally. To help sort this out, we have created an in-depth discussion of the differences and why your sentiment analysis is less than accurate without it in our two-part sentiment analysis series Sentiment Analysis Explained by a Data Scientist. Be sure to check it out!
The Benefits of Quality Consumer Research
If there’s one thing every marketer wishes they had more of – it’s time. And that’s why traditional research methods don’t cut it these days in advertising – the world is simply moving too fast. However, we can’t abandon consumer research and rely on intuition. Social listening is a marketer’s best friend to bridge the gap. And that brings us to our first benefit.
Speed to Insight
There will be a learning curve in building actionable analyses if you are not too familiar with using social listening tools for consumer research. However, once you’re up and running, with your custom audience analysis saved as a theme, you can apply that theme to any topic under the sun to find your audience talking within it.
So, let’s say you’re a vegan food producer, and you’ve saved your audience as a theme. Your brand has developed a vegan pancake mix, and they want you to build a campaign for it. The first thing you do is run an analysis on pancakes and apply your audience theme to it. It acts as a custom filter clearing away everything but your audience expressing their feelings about vegan pancakes.
215 cal vegan pancakes that don’t taste like anorexia loving life rn pic.twitter.com/MHMcKGyxrT
— cherry (@prote1nbar) October 16, 2021
In moments you have up-to-date intel on sentiment, impressions, popular posts, domains, authors, influencers, geodata, and much more. You also have all the talking points, emotions, hashtags, etc., that are relevant to your audience and your incoming pancake pitch. And you have it all at your fingertips in minutes. That’s a game-changer.
Puts You in the Consumer State of Mind
There are so many moving parts to running a successful brand that it’s easy to lose perspective. As such, one of the great things about consumer research is it lets you see your brand through the lens of your customers.
Knowing exactly how they feel about your products, competitors, and their needs helps you walk a mile in their shoes and adjust your messaging accordingly.
Helps Maintain Your Relevancy
Brands that prioritize ongoing consumer research can build better connections with their audience. Once you know them inside out, it seems foolish to present messaging that’s off-topic to their interests.
And the best marketing efforts don’t just say “look at us” all the time. By analyzing the unique properties of your audience, you’re free to use your messaging to educate and entertain them. Give four times and ask once. Once they know you’re giving back to them, you’ll gain their trust. And since you’re on point with their needs and interests, you’ll build your reputation on relevancy – which is the recipe for creating a vibrant consumer base.
Messaging missteps happen to the best of us, but a customer analysis helps us avoid areas sensitive to our audience. The more time you spend with them, the better prepared you’ll be to highlight topics they love and remain silent while other brands shoot themselves in the foot.
Consumer research allows us to pick our battles, particularly when social tensions are on edge. Last year we saw brands jumping on bandwagons left and right as consumers rolled their eyes. Knowing your audience well allows you the freedom to be proactive and choose the initiatives you want to tie your brand to. And it releases you from messaging around the news cycle like brands without a focus. A well-prepared and knowledgeable brand is much less likely to come off tone-deaf to their audience because they already have a data-backed plan in place.
Maximize Your ROI
At the end of the day, you need to make every marketing dollar count. We’re all familiar with scrolling through social media and seeing an ad that is totally irrelevant to us. Those are misspent marketing efforts. Someone did not spend the time to target their audience effectively.
Consumer research offers precision in defining your audience exactly as they are now. Additionally, monitoring their behavioral shifts over time allows you to adjust your targeting on the fly. There is no need to message people who aren’t remotely interested in your product. Lazy or inefficient targeting is a quick way to waste your ad spend.
Preparing for Consumer Research Success
It is critical to view consumer research as a commitment; it’s certainly not a one-and-done endeavor. Your brand should go into it with clearly defined objectives while remaining open to surprises. There are sure to be many of those.
It’s not enough to go through the motions of consumer research and slap messaging around the first thing you see. There is nuance that shapes perception, and ultimately, consumer behavior. It requires diligence and expertise to find the roots behind the words and actions.
Additionally, it takes further skill and determination to create an effective marketing strategy from the insights to hit your KPIs and broader business goals. Your consumer research is sure to uncover many potential messaging rabbit holes, but it is up to you to decipher which ones will provide maximum return on your time investment. Let’s look at a real-life example.
Sony OLED Televisions
A leading consulting firm wanted to learn more about consumer perspectives on Sony OLED televisions across several key metrics. As such, they used NetBase Quid to analyze product reviews from Amazon and Best Buy. The analysis quickly found that the online consumer reviews primarily fell into five main categories:
- Picture quality (46%) – Reviews on screen size and picture quality
- Sound (16%) – Comments on speakers and sound quality
- Installation (15%) – Opinions on ease of installation and setup
- Smart TV (11%) – Discussions about smart TV and Android TV setups
- Price (8%) – Comments on the price and value of Sony OLED TVs
Digging further into these conversations revealed that the Smart TV discussion had the most significant percentage of negative comments, particularly regarding Android TV features. Conversely, the Installation discussion had zero 1- and 2-star reviews.
We then filtered the analysis to include reviews for two specific models in Sony’s lineup – the A1E and A8F series. And from a marketing perspective, you can see the differences in consumer focus between the two, which can be used to tweak focus between the models in your content marketing.
Going further to isolate negative reviews across the two models reveals the specific pain points between the two. The A1E had negative feedback across 16 particular issues, whereas the A8F had three areas that were the focus of consumer ire.
These insights alone open many messaging opportunities. It shows you the high points like picture quality and installation/setup that are most likely to get the audience talking. It also shows that you probably don’t need to spend much of your messaging energy on price since it is the smallest of the conversations and still has high sentiment.
Additionally, many negative reviews focused on the Android TV functionality, which can be addressed in a future software patch. This is an opportunity to address that pain point the moment the bugs are worked out.
Consumer research helps you get to know your audience and how they feel about your goods and services. It provides invaluable consumer intelligence, helping you focus your messaging on areas they actually care about. Reach out for a demo, and we’ll put world-class consumer research tools at your fingertips, so your marketing hits home every time.