How important is Consumer Research to Marketing?
The answer is “extremely”. Everyone is bombarded by advertisements; television, radio, internet pop-ups, emails, and postal mail all are competing for our time. There is so much information to potentially process that consumers must selectively filter the onslaught in order to function normally. So, as a person with a product/service to offer, how do you get through their filters to capture their attention?
One method is to capitalize on the consumer’s existing interests. Utilize something that they already value so that they have some motivation to spend time understanding your offer. But this brings up the question of “How do you know what they are interested in?” A marketer could just go with their instincts. For example, a marketer who wants to sell a clothing product targeted for young men in their 20’s to mid-30’s may think they can easily figure out this target group. To identify the interests of this group, they could take a poll of a few friends and colleagues and combine that with one’s own experience to form a conclusion. This approach is cheap and quick but is unlikely to be representative of the target demographic group. There is another approach and that is where big data can help.
A January 2017 Gartner report states, “Those capable of extracting profitable insights from customer data gain the advantage over those still going with their gut.” In working with a Florida marketing agency, Analyze Corporation noticed that the marketing agency was designing their client’s advertising campaign to target families and using dogs as a hook to capture their attention. When we asked them “why dogs?”, they responded with the comments that “people love dogs” and “you can see them all over the neighborhoods”. When we did our research using our warehouse of big data, we found that the locations they were targeting were not especially dog friendly. In fact, those were areas where people were much less inclined to like dogs than people in the surrounding areas. So, their efforts to use “dogs” as a hook would not resonate with the people they were trying to reach. Advertising comes with a cost. A cost in dollars expended running a campaign, a cost in time invested developing the campaign, and a cost that the consumer will incorrectly associate your product with the wrong message. The opportunity to capture a consumer’s attention can easily be lost.
Using Technology to Your Advantage
The Gartner report goes on to state, “Invest in technologies that enable precision targeting and relevant personalization.” Analyze Corporation has created a web-based platform that provides businesses with the ability to understand their target audience. This is a warehouse of data that combines actual buying behavior with consumer demographics. Behavioral data and consumer responses are not the same. Polling is a method to assess interests, but it does have its limitations. Questions arise such as whether people are really telling the truth or are they just telling the pollster what they think he wants to hear? Or are they choosing the answers in a manner that will allow them to complete the poll in the quickest amount of time? The benefits of using buying behavior is that it captures where people have exchanged their monetary resources to gain something they value. In the end, this is what you are looking for. Knowing buying behavior provides insights into what the target group values.
Not Just for Rocket Scientists
The Gartner report concludes with, “Once relegated to the statistician or data scientists’ workbench, advanced analytics and machine learning are now commonplace for supporting segmentation, predictive modeling and better decisioning.” The advent of fast processors, cheap data storage, and high speed internet places the use of big data within anyone’s grasp. Everyone who desires to sell to consumers should make this capability part of their marketing strategy.