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Specialist research techniques

Specialist techniques in market research are areas that often involve prices, modelling and statistical estimation, or that blend data sources, or more complex statistics still require expertise. Whereas research into likes and dislikes or simple attitudes and preferences is easy to carry out, more advanced market research requires better tools and more statistical design.

  • Product development and product positioning
  • X25_1_product_positioning_9601.jpg New product development (NPD) and product positioning are core parts of product management and product marketing. The identification of product features to be developed together with the communication of benefits requires a deep understanding of customer use-cases, value points and benefits for customers, and technology and the competitive environment.

    Product managers need to carry out a wide-range of specialist research, from initial idea generation, concept screening, feature prioritisation, formal product testing, pricing and market sizing, market forecasting and message development to final launch materials and market monitoring.
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  • Market segmentation
  • X25_1_segmentation_9601.jpg Market segmentation is concerned with identifying different groups of purchasers in a market in order to target specific products and services for each group or segment. By tailoring the offering (communication, product, channel, price) to different groups, a business is better able to meet the needs of more customers, and consequently to gain a higher overall level of share or profit from a market.

    The process of segmentation starts with research and market analysis to identify key segments. However, the findings of the research are just the start. To be successful, implementing a segmentation strategy involves aligning the organisation to deliver appropriately for each segment and there are real business considerations with segmentation to be considered because each segment requires investment if it is to be properly addressed.
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  • Pricing research and pricing optimisation
  • Pricing research Pricing is one of the more technical areas of market research, and is central to businesses practising value-based pricing. The aim is not to find what customers like, but what they are willing to pay and so identify the optimum price point that will maximise profit, revenue or market share.

    Market context, positioning and price strategy are extremely important in setting prices - what are you trying to do with your prices - win share or maximise revenue or profits? And how are you planning to structure the pricing for sales and value. In business markets "value-in-use" or "total cost" may be more important than absolute price.

    Price modelling and market models are a fundamental part of pricing research to estimate demand, price sensitivity, optimum points and competitor responses and to plan a pricing strategy to deliver maximum value.

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  • Pricing research tips
  • X25_1_price_tips_9601.jpg Pricing research is a combination of economics, finance, psychology, understanding customer needs and business negotiation. Concepts like anchoring and priming can change price perceptions, and customers will often mask the price they will pay for negotiation.

    Even within a business, price can be talked about in terms of product positioning by marketing people, but as about income, profits and return on investment for finance directors, and about sales, discounts and promotions among sales directors. Consequently price works at multiple levels, with multiple meanings.

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  • Customer satisfaction measurement
  • X25_1_bottles4251473_19201.jpg How well do your products or services meet customer expectations? Customer satisfaction measurement (CSM or CSat) is one of the ways to measure Customer Experience and how well your business is meeting customer needs at all points of the customer journey.

    Customer Satisfaction can start with simplistic Net Promoter Score (NPS) or dive in to more complex customer satisfaction programs using menu-driven customer satisfaction measurement using our Cxoice Survey System.

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  • Brand equity and brand value
  • Understanding brand equity and brand value In markets branding can have a large effect on the price that customers will pay due to reputation, image and consideration. Brands therefore add value and enable the product or service to command a higher price, or higher market share than an unbranded equivalent.

    The term Brand equity is used to describe both the value of the brand and the brand's component values. It's value may be calculated in financial terms in comparison to unbranded products, shown as an increase in a rate of return, or presented as a more complex mix of softer market metrics such as awareness, consideration, brand strength or brand image.

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  • Advertising testing
  • Advertising testing - finding the most effective advert Advertising testing is a big area for market research. It starts with creative development via concept testing and selection of candidates from mock-ups, runs to pre-testing to validate and estimate the potential impact of the advert before it goes live and then has a full set of quantitative pre- and post- tests to measure effectiveness, possibly with smart statistical design like test and control areas.

    On top of the survey research are the behavioural measurements of responses - click-thrus and conversion rates on online media advertising and social media monitoring and then repeating and improving with methods like A/B testing.

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  • Key accounts research
  • Quality of service reviews and win-loss analysis In business-to-business markets, key accounts can form a significant part of the revenue for the business, but being small in number, conventional research tools are often too blunt and in-personal.  Our Quality of Service Review (QSR) process is a formalised method of gathering information from key account customers to support account planning and relationship development. It is particularly suited to major accounts, where the relationship may be complex with many levels of contact and influence.

    For businesses working on a project-by-project basis, win-loss research helps the business understand and improve the bids and offers it makes to customers.

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  • Market experiments and mock-ups
  • The benefit of any form of research into choices and trade-offs is that it forces people to make decisions and so reveal what they most want or most prefer. Although conjoint analysis is by far the best known of what can be characterised as 'trade-off analysis' it is not the only option.

    There are many cases where conjoint analysis is not applicable and other trade off techniques such as MaxDiff, menu-building or configurators, brand-price trade-offs (BPTO) or techniques like SIMALTO (simultaneous alternative level trade-off) or trade-off grids are more applicable, or observing real choices can be combined with questions and reasoning behind the choices being made.

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  • Usability and customer experience research
  • Design is a fundamental part of technology and services, not just software or web design as usability affects even simple things like where products are placed in a shop, or how a queuing system works in a bank. Good design comes from insights gathered by observing and understanding how people use technology and the ways in which they expect to interact with it. This could be as simple as looking over someone's shoulder while they do something, but can involve following complex customer journeys, with possibilities for qualitative discussion with users about what they are trying to achieve.

    Research and experiments are typically used iteratively with a design or technical team, to test and evaluate different factors of design through the stages of wireframing, prototyping to final finished product or service.

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  • Sensory-emotional research
  • Sensory emotional research The core challenge of qualitative research is in understanding the patterns in people's heads that lead them to different purchase decisions. These are often hidden from our conscious and cognitive processes and are based on our major and secondary senses and the way they trigger emotional reactions.

    Our sensory-emotional research process is a proprietary technique for uncovering the deep patterns and emotional responses that we have towards products and brands. Whilst we outline the technique here, it is best understood in a face-to-face demonstration which we would happily arrange with potential clients.

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