Companies know they want information about consumers but they aren't sure how to get it. They wonder: Should we do focus groups? Should we send out a questionnaire? How can we best collect information? They know they need feedback but they don't know what's out there and what their choices are when it comes to research.
Some companies find the thought of doing online or mobile research daunting. They may think they have to see the consumer in person. Options need to be explained. Expectations need to be managed. Deadlines need to be discussed.
Companies often don't feel comfortable with various technologies and platforms and do not do their due diligence to make sure they are using them correctly.
If a company is developing a product or service, they want to find out who might be interested in it. So qualitative research can be done to find out the thoughts and feelings of consumers. They need to be asked: Would this help you? Is this something that you would want to include in your life? If so, how? What features are most important to you? What are you most intrigued by?
If a product or service is already on the market, companies can reach out to consumers with the concepts, materials, packaging and/or the unboxing experience for feedback. Consumers can be shown what the product would look like on the shelf; what the packaging would look like. Their reactions to the more physical and tangible part of the product or service can be recorded and analyzed.
Online and mobile research is helpful when a company wants reactions in real time. This immediate feedback, often given in familiar territory – the consumers' homes – allows the company to understand even very subtle changes in behavior and attitude.
What do consumers think about a new product or service idea? How will they use it? What are they replacing with it? Companies need to be aware of customer behavior in order to be successful. And that's where qualitative research comes in. For example, consider the following snack food project. Before a group of moms in a focus group came in to answer questions, they were asked to take a picture every time they gave their kids a snack over a three-day period. The images were proof of what the kids had been given, likely more reliable than the answers they might give in the focus group.
Companies need to float ideas for new products and services before they roll them out. Why waste time, money and energy on an idea that isn't going to resonate with consumers? Companies need constant feedback to know whether they are on the right track.
Companies want to know where their customers went and how they can get them back. If customers are putting items in an online shopping cart, but then not completing the transaction by checking out, why did that happen? Did they find the product somewhere else for less money? Did they find a better product somewhere else? Did they not like the user experience afforded by the website? Research can get the answers to those questions.
Companies also need to find ways to keep their loyal customers happy so that they don't jump ship. When they introduce a new brand or service, they want to know what their loyal customers will think about it. If they plan to launch a new product or release a new marketing campaign, they should make sure it won't bother existing customers in any way.
If a company would like to launch a new product or service in a different market, they need to decide how to differentiate it from other products and services already on the market. A great deal of exploratory research needs to be done in order to understand who the consumers are in the new market.