Give ‘em what they want

By Diane Puma

This weekend, I bought my four year old a swing, which was not my intention.

I had done my homework and set my sights on the Mercedes of swing sets – two slides, a clubhouse and a rock wall — which I thought was the coolest thing and would certainly win me Mommie of the year. We piled into the car and drove to Toys R Us to purchase the fabulous swing set. Upon arrival, my son beelines it to a single disc swing (retail price $22.99) and insists this is the swing set he has wanted “all his life”. Disappointed and skeptical, we bring it home, set it up, and he’s happy. So maybe I am still in the running for Mommie of the year…

This got me thinking about the value of consumer research, which tends to get skipped over for a variety of reasons – budget, timing, and the fact that we think we know what the consumer wants. However taking this out of the equation opens up the possibility of a less effective campaign and a missed opportunity.

How many times have you read about an ad campaign that backfired (think back to the Motrin for mommies campaign)? I’m willing to bet most can be attributed to decisions that were made based on assumptions.

So what is a marketer to do? Research can be expensive and time consuming. Not to mention that, in this economy, we all are trying to make every advertising dollar work harder and go farther. Thanks to the internet, there are options that are cost effective and easy to implement.

The first of these options are online consumer panels, which are available through a third party provider. These are people who have consented to answer survey questions on a periodic basis. You can target it against demographics and the like and you are allowed to ask a couple of questions. The result is a statistically significant breakout of consumer reaction to your message.

If you like the idea of an online panel and have a consumer database, you can always create your own panel internally. Which is a great way to see the reaction to your concepts with consumers who are familiar with your brand.

Another great way to gauge consumer sentiment and drive your messaging is through conversation mining. For a nominal price tag, you can track relevant keywords and monitor what consumers are saying about your products online. You can even get involved in the conversation as long as you stay transparent and identify who you are.

There are many other options you can use such as site intercepts and surveys, so don’t be afraid to get creative and try a couple of outlets until you find the combination that works best for your brand.

They say knowledge is power, and my focus group of one resulted in a huge cost savings.

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