Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

Searching for Opportunities - Inexpensively

The search for new opportunities either brand improvements, line extensions or new products should be an on-going process in every company, but many people tell me they can't do this like they did in the past.  When pressed, I usually encounter the comment that they cannot afford the cost of the research.  While there are many good research tools that are expensive, such as Habits and Practices Studies, there are some very effective, low-cost methods as well.  In some cases, the research can handle most of the owrk while in others some outside assistance may be required but at a relatively moderate cost.  Consider the following methods:

Are you looking for ways to improve an existing brand?

Negative Brand Share (NBS) - This technique will probably require the use of an outside contractor.  But before contracting the work, I propose that the researcher experiment with the technique on his/her own.  The technique requires in-store interviewing.  You position yourself in the store aisle.  When a shopper picks up a competing brand, you intercept the shopper and debrief the decision-making.  I usually ask about the brand being purchased, namely, why it was purchased rather than any other brand, usage experience with the brand and other brands.  After understanding the basis of the purchase, I look to establish why my brand was not purchased.  To achieve this point, I ask the shopper to look at all the other possibilities of purchase and then zero in on my brand to determine why it was not purchased and what the manufacturer would have to do to get the shopper to replace her brand with this brand in future purchases.  It is cheap and fast.  The key to success is the environment.  The shopper has just made a purchase and your research is made in the presence of all the shopper's alternatives.

Dissatisfaction Monitor - How often have we conducted a Satisfaction Monitor only to walk away feeling that we have really learned very little?  It has been my experience that I find little differences in the level of satisfaction between the best and poorest brands on the market.  Maybe it is the way my company did the research.  To be a participant you had to have used the brand within a specific amount of time, depending on the product category.  Now if they had used the brand, what is the chance that a brand that they purchased will be unacceptable or low in satisfaction?  It is most likely a brand they had purchased in the past and found acceptable.  Rather than asking about brands they purchased recently, why not ask about brands they will not purchase or brands that they have purchased in the past but will not purchase again?  Now here is where you separate the winners from the losers.  It is far easier finding eligible respondents for this type of test as compared to the satisfaction based protocol.

If you are looking for a new line extension or a new brand, try the following:

Category Dissatisfaction
- Have you ever noticed that when conducting research, there are times when the recruited respondents are sitting idle waiting to participate?  This is time that I feel can be put to good use.  I would always carry a deck of 3 x 5 inch cards.  On these cards was printed a sentence to be completed.  I had cards printed that included every product area in which the company was involved.  The sentence on the card would be something like, "I wish the makers of shampoo would make a shampoo that would not . . . . "  There are many ways to word the statement, this is only one.  Now, consider having cards where the word "shampoo" was substituted with toothpaste, paper towels, laundry detergent, bar soap, deodorant, peanut butter, shortening, toilet tissue, dishwashing detergent, etc.  You get the idea.  It really works and it is cheap, especially if you do your own tabbing and I do recommend that you do.

*Something New -- check out "Sorensen" and click on "Controlled Store Testing"  Their studies go well beyond the conventional controlled store tests.  I think you will find it interesting.

Sponsor:  Sorensen Associates Inc      Portland, OR  800.542.4321        Minneapolis, MN  888.616.0123
The In-Store Research Company 

[Back] [Index] [Forward]