The Right Research
New products and services need non-traditional research methods
Launching new products and services is a complex process – one that often requires going beyond traditional market research methods.
“So many companies have great ideas for products and services, but they don’t know who the primary and secondary target markets are and how to get the word out,” says Jill Glathar Ph.D., VP and Director of Market Planning and Development at Opinion Research Corporation, a global market research leader and InfoUSA subsidiary.
For example, the less-traditional approach of ethnography, also known by the moniker of ethnographic research, can help companies understand their prospective target audiences and figure out the best ways to reach them, Glathar says. Unlike traditional market research methods such as surveys and focus groups that ask questions about specific products or services, ethnography involves the study of people and the ways they go about their daily lives. Ethnography observes people in their natural environments, whether it be their cubicle or their car, to reveal how they use products, services or simply interact with others. The findings from such research are often very powerful in explaining behavior.
Through ethnography, researchers gain insights and obtain information that allows them to create a profile of prospective customers. These profiles include both demographic markers such as age and gender, augmented by contextual, psychographic and behavioral markers that indicate how likely someone is to adopt new technology or to go hiking in their spare time.
Glathar pointed to a recent research project she worked on for a client who specialized in high-end home technology as an example. During the research process, she found that one target audience that was highly likely to purchase high-end home technology also fit the profile of being lazy and relaxed at home.
“Many people think of laziness in negative terms, but this particular group of people – the ‘lazy-n-loving-it’ group, as we called them – thought of laziness in terms of relaxation and comfort,” Glathar explains, adding that this group actually had very busy personal and professional lives and were looking for products that made their home lives easier.
Glathar’s research also found that the majority of “lazy-n-loving-it” consumers owned large dogs and were the primary caregivers to their pets. “This information allowed us to get to know the group on a more personal level. We were able to fine-tune the profile of our target customer,” she notes, adding that detailed profiles can be used to generate prospect lists and marketing campaigns. “In this scenario, where the audience was not clearly identifiable by demographics alone, we were able to use our knowledge of dog ownership to create a customized marketing campaign tailored to their needs (and their desire to spend time with their dogs!) which enabled our client to actually reach the desired customer.
Dr. Glathar works with clients to develop market entry, market assessment, top-line growth and innovation research strategies for both existing and emerging markets. Through the integration of business analytics, quantitative analyses and market directives, she explores the issues of demand estimation, segmentation, market structure and opportunity analyses. Her expertise gives clients the insight to identify, understand, and capitalize on new market. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.