Monthly Archives: January 2015

How to Understand Your Marketplace

Before you can conduct any meaningful research to benefit your business, you must first be able to understand the marketplace your organization serves. A marketplace refers to your customers, their characteristics, and how your company operates in order to fulfill their needs with your products and services. Prior to developing a strategy to win more customers, you will also need to study your competition and the driving forces behind growth in the marketplace. In order to be successful in your industry, you must be able to complete online market research that gives your organization a deeper understanding of the competition, the factors that are a threat to success, and how your company can leverage its strengths to stay one step ahead.

Focus Groups Online

Find Out “Who”

One of the first things you need to do in order to understand your marketplace is find out who the competition is. Who makes similar products, and what is their overall market share? What strategies do they employ that help them grow their business? Answering these questions allows your company to identify growing players in your industry, as well as tactics that you may think about using to improve your relationship with your own customers.

“Who” also relates to your customers – those that have the final say in whether or not your products are purchased. What values do your customers hold? What is a consumer’s typical purchasing behavior? How do your target customers feel about your latest brand initiative? Online market research helps find answers to these questions so your business can be better in tune with the key role players in the market.

What Is the Marketplace?

While it may sound simple, being able to describe your market in basic terms is anything but. To be able to understand your marketplace and how you can succeed, your team must know what makes it tick. Study how your products test in various segments of the United States or in countries around the world. It is also smart to see the current state of the market in terms of monetary volume and competition, and to compare it to where it was five or ten years ago.

Uncover trends in your industry and compare them to past projections to see how the marketplace may grow in the future. Using the insight you gain from this research helps you see new opportunities for expansion, as well as obstacles to overcome.

Where Is the Marketplace?

Are your customers shopping for products in a physical retail location, or is more money spent online? Have you seen a surge in purchases from mobile devices? Build a market research plan that engages your consumers and clients so that your business can see the current business landscape and make any necessary changes or improvements. This will help improve your relationships, and give your research team the data and information needed to outperform the competition.

Focus groups connect you with consumers directly, and provide qualitative results that lead to more informed decisions, because today’s businesses are run on more than just quantitative questions and answers. Learn more about how market research can give your organization a better understanding of the current marketplace by contacting a representative of e-FocusGroups at (707) 585-7363.

Emerging Trends in Qualitative Research

As organizations and companies look for more ways to conduct online market research, it is necessary to understand the methods that have worked in the past, and the changes that must be made in the future. For example, sending out a research team to administer surveys of random shoppers at your store might have worked wonderfully in the past, but as your company expands its online offerings and reaches customers around the globe, that might not be viable anymore. Learning about emerging trends in qualitative research allows you to spot areas for improvement in your strategy so you can continue to strengthen your relationship with your target audience. Additionally, these trends will help ensure your market research techniques remain effective and worthwhile.

Sentiment from Industry Experts

One of the best ways to understand the direction of the market research industry is to poll professionals about what does and doesn’t work. This is exactly what GreenBook does with its quarterly GRIT Report, which stands for GreenBook Research Industry Trends. The Fall 2014 GRIT Report examined responses from 3,175 participants, composed of industry suppliers and clients, and discovered the following trends:

  • Increased use of tablets and smartphones is driving change in how research is conducted and analyzed.
  • Qualitative market research continues to be an important tool to meet the needs of organizations.
  • Research organizations and their clients must also explore new methodologies to adapt to change.

These responses show that as we move into 2015 and beyond, it is more important than ever to anticipate and adapt to changes in the customer landscape. To understand these changes and find out how your business can act to meet the needs of your customers, qualitative market research is the key.

Overcoming Market Research Limitations

Another area of focus for organizations is to find ways that allow them to conduct the qualitative market research they need within tighter budgets, or by using changing methods. With the shift toward mobile for customers, companies are taking advantage of online market research that uses focus groups to find out how consumers feel about a brand, and the reasons behind the purchases they make. Budgetary constraints are a tremendous obstacle for companies to overcome, and utilizing a focus group run online allows a business to save on staffing, materials, and travel costs.

When putting a market research plan into action, businesses also want to get the most value out of their time and money. Gaining access to as much insight and detail is critical so that information can be used as needed. Laddering and other focus group techniques probe for participant responses that will benefit product development, advertising, branding, distribution, and more.

Convenient Connection with Customers

At the end of the day, being able to connect with your customers in a way that is mutually convenient will help produce the most valuable data, especially from a qualitative standpoint. Online market research helps your team solicit feedback from customers around the world and gives them the opportunity to participate from the comfort of their own home. As a result, you’ll receive more candid responses with an online focus group and have the opportunity to run in-depth, multi-day discussions or real-time 90-minute sessions, according to your needs. To learn more about emerging trends in qualitative market research and how online focus groups can benefit your organization, contact a representative at e-FocusGroups at (707) 585-7363.

Online Focus Groups

Laddering Technique in Market Research

Finding out what is important to your customers and what influences their decisions is an essential result when conducting online market research. To accomplish this, your organization must be able to dig deeper into participant responses during focus groups to uncover the functional and emotional motivators for your customers. By using the laddering technique in your market research strategy, you will gain a better understanding of your customers, clients, or employees, which can be put to use in your daily operation. Armed with this information, your organization will be able to build new product concepts, create more effective marketing materials, and appeal to your audience more effectively.

What Is the Purpose of Laddering?

The purpose of laddering is to uncover the basic emotions that feed into a customer’s decision to purchase a certain product. The technique gets its name due to the nature of the questions asked by the researcher. By continuing to dig deeper in responses to your questions about your brand or a particular product, you are able to discover the “whys” that are present in every transaction.

Laddering, when looked at metaphorically, connects a person’s beliefs and values with their decision to buy your product. Each question you ask is a rung on the ladder that brings you one step closer to gaining this insight.

How Does Laddering Work?

Laddering is usually completed as a four-step process while you are conducting a focus group with individuals. You can deploy the technique by asking participants in online market research to elaborate on their responses to initial questions. The step-by-step questioning line allows you to find out the following information about your customers:

  1. Features of products they find important
  2. Functional benefits received from the feature
  3. Higher order benefits that are deeper than serving a functional purpose
  4. Emotional needs met by each of the benefits received

To find out these things you will need to start out with a generic question about your brand or product, and ask follow-up questions that are more direct and personal. For example, finding out why someone purchased a new pair of shoes from your company could include this dialogue:

  • “What do you like best about the shoes?”
    • “They are very comfortable.” (Feature)
  • “What makes comfort important?”
    • “I need to be able to run long distances at a time.” (Functional benefit)
  • “How does comfort achieve this for you?”
    • “I can run longer without getting injured or feeling fatigued.” (Higher benefit)
  • “What does running without pain or fatigue do for you?”
    • “I can get faster and feel accomplished by improving my marathon time.” (Emotional benefit)

From this conversation, you’ve identified that a customer wants to improve her time, and that determination led her to purchase your company’s shoes to help achieve that goal.

What Value Can Be Gained from Laddering?

Market researchers turn to laddering as a technique because they are able to gain the qualitative information that can be used to enhance product offerings, advertisements, and overall business strategy. Once you are able to connect a physical action with its underlying motivation, you have all of the tools needed to create compelling advertising copy that resonates with your audience.

The qualitative data you collect through laddering helps build your relationship with customers because you will understand their values and see ways that you can fulfill their needs. To use laddering effectively it is important to work with experts in online focus groups that will assist you with conducting your research and making the most out of the data it produces. To learn more about how focus groups can bolster your market research strategy, contact a representative of e-Focus Groups at (707) 585-7363.


Common Myths about Focus Groups

Online Focus Groups

When developing a sound market research strategy for your business, it is important to make use of various tools available in order to get both the quantity and quality you need to make informed decisions. Online focus groups are an excellent way to leverage technology so that your organization can effectively connect with its target audience. However, some companies hold mistaken or outdated beliefs about the value of focus groups and, therefore, choose to ignore them as an integral part of their market research effort. Some of these myths include:

  1. Focus Groups Are Cost Prohibitive – One myth that organizations believe is that focus groups are prohibitively expensive. It’s true that traditional, in-person groups can be quite costly when multiple-cities are involved and both moderator and client team are required to fly to the various markets. But it does not have to be so. For example, it’s possible for the moderator to do the traveling and for the client team to stay home and observe the groups through live video. Online focus groups offer even more economy, inasmuch as nobody has to travel. Online focus groups allow moderator, respondents, and clients to conduct the research from the comfort of their own homes/offices.
  2. Focus Groups Are Very Inexpensive — Asserting this as a myth may seem to contradict the statement above but the fact is that novice research buyers frequently have price expectations that are unrealistically low. Even online focus groups have to be compensated for the time and expertise of the moderator, the technical infrastructure to support the online activities, respondent incentives, and other recruiting costs.
  3. Focus Groups Require Strangers – While most projects seek a random sample for the research, this is not always the ideal approach. Groups designed to elicit employee feedback is an important exception, for example. Another example is the research strategy where it makes more sense to interview groups of friends rather than strangers.
  4. Focus Groups Do Not Produce Meaningful Data – It’s true that focus groups do not lend themselves to statistical conclusions about large population. Thst’s the job of quantitative survey research. But focus groups are an extremely powerful tool for digging down and gain insight into deeper motivations behind the numbers..
  5. Focus Group Participants Aren’t Truthful – Some research buyers fear that focus group respondents will be less than candid, perhaps not want to hurt the client company’s feelings. A skilled moderator knows how to get past these sorts of biases. And, again, online focus groups are especially good at getting past this dynamic inasmuch as they tend to be relatively anonymous. Expeience has shown that respondents in online groups are especially forthcoming.

Learn more about how staging a focus group online will positively impact your market research strategy by contacting an e-Focus Groups representative at (707) 585-7363.