The 4 Most Important Consumer Research Data Points
Consumer research is a key metric that helps brands stay relevant and innovate regularly according to the needs and experiences of their customers.
So let’s start by defining what a data point is: a data point is a unit of information or observation. It is usually derived from a measurement or piece of research and can sometimes be represented numerically or graphically if rooted in quantitative research. However, there are qualitative data points too; any single fact or metric that is collected in a market research project is a data point ready to be put to good use.
There are many consumer research data points available for stakeholders and insight experts to use to understand their position in their industry, their customers and their best moves towards the future. But which consumer research data points are some of the most important for brands to use on a regular basis?
Depending on the interpretation of the question, there are a couple of ways this could be taken. Firstly, we could focus on the units of data from traditionally measurable metrics that identify a consumer (e.g. the numerous categories of demographic segmentation data) and focus on those important data points, or we could look at the wide variety of data points that can be derived from the broad field of consumer research and help us understand consumers and our place in their lives more. Let’s take a look at the latter first, and then provide a few examples of the former as we go along to cover all bases.
1. Data Points Derived from Consumer or Market Segmentation
As the first way that the above question could be taken, segmentation data is an important data point to discuss. Segmentation data is the glue that holds together insights and propels them to relevancy within a business — they’re a great way for stakeholders to understand exactly who their customers are and what they need from the brand that they’re interacting with. That’s why segmentation data points are the first important data point to explore for both insight experts and brand stakeholders.
There are many different types of segmentation data, but four of the more common types are: demographic (age, education, occupation, etc.), behavioural, geographic, and psychographic. Conducting a market analysis through consumer segmentation techniques will uncover numerous data points that explain exactly who a brand’s consumers are, how they should be segmented for unlimited understanding, and how many consumers fit into each ‘persona’ if personas are created from these data points.
Personas are one way of sorting segmentation data points into easily digestible insights, but segmentation data can be paired with other data types as well, turning other crucial metrics and data points into impactful and directly actionable insights that can influence pivotal decisions across the stakeholder organisation.
2. Key Competitive Benchmarking Metrics
The second data point to mention is those gained through competitive benchmarking metrics. Benchmarking such as this is a time-honoured tradition that fuels innovation and powers industries, with businesses competing now more than ever against each other to gain the fabled customer loyalty, or at least to be a successful, recognised household name within their industry. Competition drives businesses to become the best in their industry, but not necessarily better versions of themselves — using competitive benchmarking data points along with insights directly from consumers, businesses can now feasibly achieve both.
So which metrics are best to use? Each business will measure it differently, using a combination of metrics to gain a good overall picture of how they place within their industry against their direct and indirect competitors. Typically, this is gained by asking questions such as:
- Where else do their consumers go to get the products, services and experiences the business offers?
- What exactly is it that they like about competitors and are willing to go to their competitors over themselves to get?
- How do their consumers see and experience the brand? This could reveal a poignant perception gap between how the brand is attempting to position itself and what its customers actually see and experience, which can be detrimental to the brand’s success.
Using social media mentions and reviews, backlink monitoring, public reviews and official ratings, etc. insight teams can gain a great sense of how they’re faring in their industry according to their own customers, as well as the factors that are most important to them when it comes to measuring that success.
3. Social Media Intelligence and Other Behavioural Data
Speaking of social media, social media intelligence research can expose many more data points that record much of online consumer behaviour. While traditional market research (here defined as quantitative and qualitative research methods such as surveys and focus groups) is great for connecting to consumers and uncovering some crucial insights, there is an issue that all insight experts have experienced for decades — the gap between what consumers say they do and what they actually do in-the-moment. Logic vs. emotional action.
Using social media intelligence and behavioural science-based research methods, insight experts now have the opportunity to bridge that gap, and merge these new data points with those already collected from traditional market research to understand the full spectrum of consumer behaviours, and account for any participant bias in the future.
Using social media data such as consumer-brand interactions and online reviews and discussions held about the brand and its products in a more informal environment where consumers feel comfortable enough to speak freely without repercussions, stakeholders are able to see consumers’ raw, unfiltered thoughts and feelings. These unmoderated lead to some of the most truthful data and insights than even some dedicated online research panels and customer communities.
4. Direct Interaction History
Lastly, a great source of important data points is the direct interactions between the brand and consumers through the customer experience or journey. There are many recorded touchpoints where consumers interact with brands, with some being more popular such as the customer service team and the brand’s website and others being less popular but still great sources of data points like quantitative NPS surveys that are sent out after every interaction. Most consumers will ignore the NPS surveys but for those that do take a second to rate their experience, that data can go a long way toward informing the evolution of internal strategies, policies and processes.
Tracking customers through the customer journey and on the website can provide great behavioural-based data points without customers even knowing. We can glean valuable from watching customers explore different aspects of the brand experience, flow back and forth through the sales process and see what points they hit when to understand how effective each part of the experience actually is. Pairing the data gathered in this way with traditional market research data will only enhance the insights generated as a result.
This article was originally published on the FlexMR Insights Blog and can be accessed here.