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

Uncovering New Opportunities (with a Limited Budget)

Recently I had the opportunity to meet with the students of Dr. Ron Bush and Dr. Greg Martin at the University of West Florida.  The two classes were Marketing Fundamentals and Consumer Behavior.  In preparation for the visit, I reworked a presentation I had given in the past called "Getting Up Close and Personal With the Consumer."  The focus of this presentation is to become more personally involved in the learning and understanding of consumer behavior.  This personal involvement negates the large based research projects and brings the research to a more personal level which in turn results in smaller based projects with very low budgets.  It is all about Exploratory Research.  The methods involved in this type of research do not usually appear in the literature.  For example, consider the following protocols:

For basic learning and understanding, consider two similar approaches called In-Home Observation Research and the Consumer Director Technique.  Both of these two approaches involve visiting the consumer in the home to observe a specific task.  If your business is the manufacture of laundry detergents, your in-home observation would simply involve the task of observing a homemaker assemble the laundry, sort it, wash it and finally dry it.  While in the Expert Director Technique, two people visit the homemaker and instead of the homemaker doing the laundry, one of the two visitors becomes the homemaker's robot whereby she directs the robot in every step of the laundry process.  This technique is usually video taped by the second visitor so that the actions, directions and words of the consumer are recorded.  We could get fancy and call this basic ethnology or anthropology research, but I prefer to just call it learning and understanding.

Another approach to basic understanding research would be what I call "Dream the Dream."  The setting involved could be either a Focus Group setting or as I prefer a One-on-One setting.  The underlying task is to have the consumer discuss a specific task delving into all the personal problems relating to the task and eventually discussing the ideal solution to the task (the Dream).

For the improvement of a specific brand, the Negative Brand Share technique is ideal.  This protocol involves research at the point of purchase.  The research is positioned in the store aisle to observe the purchase of a brand in a specific category.  When the shopper selects a competitive brand, the interviewer approaches the shopper and debriefs her about the purchase.  Specifically, why that particular brand was purchased rather than any other brand?  The shopper's brand experience in the category?  Why the researcher's brand was not purchased?  and What would the manufacturer of the researcher's brand have to do to get the consumer to purchase it?

For a category improvement, I like the Category Accepted Belief approach.  This type is basically a paper and pencil, while you are waiting technique.  Essentially anytime you have a group of homemakers that are in a central location and have time on their hands, they are given a pencil and a card that contains a statement such as "What I dislike about (insert the product category) is that they all                     or "I wish they would make a [insert] that would               ."  The idea is to uncover opportunities within a product category.

The five techniques listed above are designed for the personal involvement of the researcher and to be very economical.

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