Market research has been a boon for businesses since its inception, allowing stakeholders to get to know their customers and consumers on a fundamental level: understanding significant behavioural patterns both on and offline, their experiences and opinions that define them, their defining habits and hobbies, and more. Because of this, the view of market research is that it only benefits the stakeholders and businesses that request the projects. This is something many are now realising to be deeply wrong.
As stakeholders act on the insights they give in order to optimise brand and customer experiences, both stakeholders and consumers are starting to understand that the main winners are the consumers themselves. Sure, the businesses stand to gain from well-implemented insights by drawing more customers in and future-proofing their organisation, however, the customers that are drawn in stand to gain more than the business, through an enjoyable experience that provides tangible benefits to their lives through the products and services that business provides. As long as the experience is being improved to make it easier for customers and consumers to interact and get what they want from a brand, they are the ones who stand to gain the most from this transaction.
Because of this, market research itself gains a lot from consumers and customers who contribute their data, but brands who implement market research transparently are being seen in a more positive light by their current and future customers.
Fostering Positive Emotions Through Market Research
Positive emotions are the key to a successful brand — no one wants to interact with a brand that has provided negative experiences to other people, because it means they’re likely to encounter a negative experience themselves. That is why the customer experience is such a powerful part of the brand identity, and a turning point at which failing businesses can become internationally successful brands.
For those failing businesses who have negative reviews or experience bad word-of-mouth advertising, there is a power to positive emotions that counteracts any negativity aimed towards the brand. Fostering positive experiences and thus positive emotions towards the brand can start to tip the scales in the brand’s favour, and allow other future customers to see that they are capable of providing them with a good time, great products and impactful services.
From this, businesses will start to see a tangible difference in their analytics and to keep that going, they will need to invest in quality market research to make sure they understand exactly what made those positive interactions different from the previous negative ones, as well as get an idea of what changes to make internally to improve the customer and brand experience more.
Tipping the balance in this way can be done well through continuous, transparent market research, both in terms of insight generation and through the simple act of wanting to know how to improve in accordance with their customers’ wishes.
How to Harness Market Research Well
Harnessing the power of market research to foster positive emotions in the eyes of current and future customers shouldn’t be the main reason to conduct market research, but rather embraced as a happy by-product of wanting to get to know those customers better and enhance brand and customer experiences.
That being said, there are ways of making sure that market research can also endear customers to brands in this way.
Good Data Security is a Must
Data protection, while this is obvious to many insight experts, increases trust in market research and in the brand that is doing the research. It is still worth reiterating because it is a fact that often gets lost in the pursuit of better insights at the speed of business. If respondents know that their data is safe, then they’ll be more likely to participate in research activities and give deeper descriptions of their encounters, opinions and experiences with the brand.
So, taking the time to make sure that the data security measures are up to the lawful code and implementing data protection practices in daily tasks will be key to cementing trust in respondents both in terms of the market research and the brand itself. This will be true whether the brand has its own in-house insights team or whether they’re hiring a research agency to conduct those research projects for them because consumers don’t have the knowledge to know the difference.
However, when placing trust in a market research agency, there are a few boxes to check and seven questions to ask in order to understand if they are a good partner for the brand or not, for example: Why are you on the market? How can I be a good partner to you? And what is it you value? These questions will help close the gulf in the client-agency relationship and help both parties to form a true research partnership that will benefit both the brand and the research agency.
Closing the Customer Feedback Loop
To increase transparency and help customers know that you’re acting on the valuable data they provide, brands must close that feedback loop and let their respondents and their customers know what is being done and why. While there should be a tangible change to the feel of the brand and the customers’ experience when interacting with the brand, those customers who don’t know that the brand does market research will not understand exactly how closely stakeholders are paying attention to them and catering to them based on the feedback of other customers.
Closing the feedback loop will enhance that positive feeling towards the brand, because then customers will understand why those changes are being implemented, and while they might not contribute to the research directly, they will still feel like they are valued because other customers are being listened to and their insights acted on.
There are a few different ways to close the feedback loop depending on the customer the brand is interacting with.
- Sending regular updates to respondents — this is a crucial one, because if those respondents don’t feel like their insights are being valued enough to act on, then they will inevitably stop responding to research tasks and the projects will not produce as high-quality insights for stakeholders to use in their decision-making processes. So, sending regular monthly newsletters to those respondents detailing exactly how their insights are being used across the organisation, what actions are being taken and how they will notice their insights more tangibly at work will promote transparency and help them understand their value.
- Updating other customers who aren’t respondents yet — quarterly or bi-yearly newsletters showcasing the actions taken on the insights from respondents in a similar vein to the respondent updates will help customers understand how the brand is changing and why, and also draw attention to particular changes that they will feel within the customer and brand experience that otherwise might have been missed.
- Creating a page on your website to showcase insight-led change — this will reach not only current customers, but also future customers who are interested in the brand. This will create another layer of transparency and show to the public exactly how the brand is taking steps to better themselves, the path they want to take towards the future, and promote opportunities for customers to get involved with future research
This article was originally published on the FlexMR Insights Blog and can be accessed here.