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Worksheet: Finding the Insights that Drive Foresight

There are various types of research and it can be difficult to determine when best to use them as you look to gain insights throughout the transformation process for both internal and external stakeholder validation.

To assist in planning and implementing a consumer study here is a worksheet with eight easy-to-follow and understand steps.

WHAT TYPE OF RESEARCH IS APPROPRIATE?

Most rebranding projects require stakeholder input from front-line staff to consumers and management to ensure that the new strategy aligns with target group behaviours and customer needs. 

The link to the workbook is based on 37 years of experience conducting, managing and leveraging research as part of branding programs. The various research tools that provide the best insights and learning and assist decision-making are outlined. So what research is best to provide the insights that will minimize risk and align the strategy toward a successful outcome?

I vividly remember the Sony Walkman story, working as an account director for a large multinational advertising agency (I was running a below-the-line design agency) that was tasked to launch the Sony Walkman in Canada. Our agency, located in Japan, had conducted focus group studies and advertising research to determine how best to market the new portable audio entertainment platform. Initial results concluded that consumers would not well receive the product due to price and credibility barriers. The notion of paying $300 for a portable sound system with sound quality comparable to high-end home entertainment systems received a high level of skepticism.

The client was adamant that the system would succeed and requested the agency to conduct a separate ethnographic study where customers were invited to try the product as part of street demos. The results were astounding, and the respondents found the price a bargain compared to their home entertainment systems. The rest is history, yet the faith of the Sony Walkman could have turned out quite differently if it had not been for the client’s determination and the appropriate research. 

Through this and many other projects throughout my career, I have learned that the wrong research methodology or questionnaire can negatively impact any project’s outcome. 

Yet the fundamental truth is that research is not definitive and should only be used to gauge risk and identify key challenges that need to be overcome during the rebranding process, irrespective of quantity or quality. 

QUALITATIVE VERSUS QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH

Qualitative and quantitative research categories, and their many sub-categories, are generally used for different purposes. 

Qualitative Research: Qualitative research is about gaining directional learning to either narrow down a range of options or gain deeper behavioural insights that would guide an organization in the chosen direction. The value of qualitative research is to gain a two-way dialogue with consumers, either as part of focus groups, triads or ethnographic studies (these studies follow customers through their daily product usage journeys to gain insights and opinions). The quality of the findings in these studies is heavily influenced by the research moderator and the selected respondents. Due to this, excellent care and consideration need to be given to these two factors.

Qualitative research is not definitive, and its real value is directional (no matter what research firms tell you). The nature of quantitative research is in the number of respondents rather than the quality of responses. This research is more definitive, pending the sample size and the type of question to a variable of 10% or less. This research is biased because we only talk to consumers who use online tools and tend to be more willing to share their views (researching elderly people is an excellent example of its limitations). In typical quantitative online studies, respondents answer various questions and ratings. The online platform allows for a more significant number of participants and enables brand marketers to evaluate responses based on demographics, psychographics, lifestyle, and other variables. The outcome of quantitative research is not correlated to the moderator but, more importantly, to the questionnaire and sample size. 

Quantitative Research: Quantitative research tends to lay a solid fact-based foundation and provide clarity on a limited and curated number of options. Since the length of the questionnaire plays a critical role in how respondents answer the questions, studies tend to be no longer than 15 minutes (12 minutes on average). Hybrid studies bridge the benefits of both qualitative and quantitative research. In supergroups, 50 or more respondents are grouped to provide clicker-driven ranking to questions, with a sub-group invited to a qualitative, in-depth discussion. This type of research tends to be most frequently used by agencies to rate creative options for print and TV advertisements. 

In our worksheet, we have grouped this type of research in the qualitative section as it is predicated by the moderator’s quality and limits geographical and segmentation capabilities inherent in quantitative studies.

We have also outlined the various options and their most common usage to assist you in selecting the most appropriate research approach for a rebranding project. In most assignments, we should consider a range of these options through the ThinkBlink Process.

CONCLUSION

Gaining stakeholder input and insights is a critical element of a rebranding assignment, and great care needs to be given to ensure the objectives and methodology are well-defined. The process and information provided in the worksheet should ensure that the process is smooth and that the desired outcome is of the highest quality.

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