The Argument Against Consumer Research
Should you take the next step and do consumer research? Let’s start with the potential risk of not doing any consumer research, whether it’s qualitative or quantitative research. Many people say that since their business is doing well, they do not need to pay to learn about consumer behavior. They have years of experience in the trade, they themselves are consumers, and they observe what is going on in the market.
Historically, business owners did market research themselves with their gut feel and personal experience. Many combined this with speaking with their customers, observing competitors and monitoring the marketplace. All of these are highly valid inputs to decision making. However, they don’t always give complete clarity into how consumers are responding to their business actions or required changes.
It is true that when you work in a given business, you develop an understanding for how consumers think and shop. You, your colleagues and family may also be consumers of the product, so feel that you already have quite some insights into consumer behavior.
The Argument For Consumer Research
While beneficial, this can be misleading. First, when you work in the area, you tend to have a level of engagement with the category which typical consumers do not. Not only is it hard to see things objectively, but it is also hard to see the product in the way real consumers see it. If you have a fantastic technology which offers what consumers say they want, it can be difficult to admit or even understand why consumers consistently reject your product at the point of purchase. For them, however, it may be that that category is one of thirty or forty they are shopping in a single visit on the way home from work. They simply do not have the engagement in it you may expect.
Secondly, you, your friends and family may well not represent the core target group for your product. This is true even if you match it in terms of usage. A group of trained business professionals probably does not match the socio-economic or ethnographic spread most brands have as their target user group.
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential consumer. Ask yourself a couple of questions about a business or category outside of your area. Have you ever wondered why the business owner or marketer didn’t change something? Have you switched services or brands because you were a dissatisfied customer? This can be very enlightening as you consider how your own consumers might feel.
Consumer behavior research and consumer marketing research can be transformative. When done properly it can help fill in a lot of the gaps, building on what you already know.