Do you ever get sick of seeing the term “Big Data”? It’s as prolific as sand on the beach right now – particularly in hot tech areas, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, where we’re based from. Don’t get us wrong. We love data. Even the Big kind, but even the best Big Data can only tell you so much.
Which is why we don’t specialize in Big Data.
Nope. We’re not that kind of specialist, even though Big Data is pretty hip right now. We specialize in market research, which does include Big Data, but it goes a bit beyond that. It’s the time-consuming time of market research that requires person-to-person contact, versus just contact via algorithms and lots of programmers in open-space offices. It requires painstaking coding, but not the kind of coding that software developers do. It takes careful study design, facilitation, insight-extraction skills, and did we mention person-to-person contact?
The types of market research we do
The market research design we choose will be based on the type of question(s) we’re tackling. For example, if we’re working with a startup that is looking to get some sweet funding from an angel investor or VC firm, we’ll probably design a qualitative study involving usability testing, ethnographies, and focus groups. Our goal is to identify people’s opinions and see how people use the product/app/software in real life. We’ll test out pricing opinions. We’ll see how people interact with the features on their phones or computers. We’ll test branding messages, probe about UX design, and we’ll gather feedback to see what is missing or could be improved upon.
See how this is a bit different from just looking at Big Data and stats about larger patterns?
Or, let’s say there’s a well-established company that creates human resources software designed to speed up and simplify HR. They have clients internationally, and HR is one of those topics that’s a bit sensitive to discuss. So we’ll choose in-depth interviews for this market research design. For in-depth interviews, we’ll develop a robust discussion guide, recruit the participants, and conduct phone interviews (ranging from a half-hour to an hour in length) with the target consumer. We’ll have a deep discussion with them and learn all about their business challenges, what types of tools they’re looking for to enhance their HR operations, and do some discovery on how they’re using the product we’re studying. We’ll code the interviews, write a comprehensive report, and deliver our insights and recommendations to the HR software company.
Much more comprehensive than just another survey or deep dive into the analytics, right?
Or how about this one? Let’s say a retailer that has some new clothing shops aimed at young women’s fashion is aiming to test the shopping experience in their stores. They want to know how their shoppers perceive the in-store shopping experience, what they think of the store design, and how they’re treated by the staff while shopping. For this market research study, we’d choose in-store mobile ethnographies. We’d have some willing shoppers in our core demographic take a little shopping trip, and using a mobile qualitative research app that we have them download, they can give immediate feedback via the app about their shopping experience. They’ll go through some questions that we populate the app with, which are specific to store design, customer experience, and are designed to gather input about the clothing selections. Once their shopping experience is complete, we’ll do in-person focus groups with them to gather additional feedback. The retail client will get some pretty amazing insights from this process – and using the findings, they’ll be able to make tweaks and modifications to their stores, employee training process, and inventory selections.
See now how market research is different from Big Data?
Market research is a personalized, tailored process designed to learn how real customers think, shop, buy, and perceive brands. It goes far beyond Big Data and what even the best statistics in the world can model. It requires careful methodologies, and it results in amazing, transformative insights that can and do turn companies from so-so brands into critical mass labels that click with customers, causing sales to skyrocket. Basically, any company that is selling products or services to people should be investing in market research that includes person-to-person research. Numbers alone just don’t suffice.