This is not always an easy question to answer. The outputs will depend partly on the questions that you are asking and, even more particularly, on what we find out and how we think these findings will be best communicated to your team.
We do have some commonality about how we approach our debrief outputs, but these will always be shaped by what we need to communicate:
We begin with the story. How have your consumers’ lifetime experiences evolved to create the emotional drivers that motivate them now. If you want to understand the adult, you need to understand the child that they once were. How and why they have the attitudes and motivations that they now do. Once you understand this story you start to understand your consumers.
Next, we explore how your product and your competitors interact with those attitudes and motivations. Your brand positioning, communications and product experience take the consumer on an emotional journey. How well does this journey match what the consumer is seeking. How does the emotional journey of your brand compare to those of your competitors, and how and why are they perceived differently. Which parts of your emotional journey are better than your competition, which parts of their emotional journeys are better than yours.
Different people find different presentations of the information will suit them, so we may use a Shape of Taste with our Blue copy – the Sensorial Transcript – and our Green copy – the Emotional Transcript. We may use a Taste Signature to show how the sensorial factors contribute to the emotional outtakes. We may use something completely unique that just seems to work for this set of findings.
We give clear conclusions and recommendations. Our debriefs usually conclude with an in-depth, detailed conversation about the next steps in terms of communication and product development objectives and briefs.
That, however, should not be the end of the project. The Marketing Clinic will continue to support our clients.. We will re-present our findings to different stakeholders. We will be available to view and comment upon communications as they are developed, to try product samples…
The outputs will be whatever is required to ensure comprehensive understanding of our findings and the profitable implementation of the knowledge gained.
In short, for a “ standard” project 6 groups (with 5 respondents in each) will give a stable result.
A Standard Project
This, for us, is a project of six groups. This will have a single or maybe two socio-economic/demographic target groups, one or two locations and up to 6 SKUs (client or competitive products, concepts etc.) to study.
Reducing the number of products, socio-economic or demographic groups or even locations is unlikely to reduce the need for 6 groups as we start to get just too few respondents to get a stable response. Increasing the number of products or complicating the socio-economics/demographics or locations will increase the number of groups required to ensure a stable response and to ensure that we spot any differences between the different target groups.
Additionally, if the study is a bit more complicated or difficult we advise a couple of extra groups to ensure we get a solid response and a high degree of confidence.
What do I mean by a “Stable Response”?
As we cross question each individual respondent we get very deep insights into their personal emotional drivers and their emotional responses to the products/concepts.
As we repeat this we start to find the common emotional drivers and emotional responses. We then get to a stage when we can reliably predict how respondents will react and what they will say. This is what we term a “Stable Response”.
Experience over the last 20 years has shown us the number of respondents that is required per SKU for us to get to this Stable Response and foe a standard project that will require 6 groups.
So, how many Groups will my Project Require?
One we understand your brief we will be able to calculate the number of groups required in order to reach a stable response. We usually start with six groups and will add more if required to ensure a stable response and confidence in our findings.
My start point in answering this question is 6 weeks.
But it does of course depend on many factors.
How complicated or difficult is the recruitment?
How complex is the project itself?
How many locations are required, and more specifically, across how many countries and continents?
Do we have immediate availability when you are asking?
Sometimes, we will deliver a more straightforward project in a single country in 4 weeks, a more complex project across a number of countries my take 8 or 9 weeks.
The best way to find out how long your project might take is to talk to us. Once we understand what you are looking for and what your deadlines are we will work with you to meet your deadlines.
We generally find that our clients are surprised by how quickly we can deliver great results for quite complex projects.
Probably less than you feared.
Obviously, the investment required will depend upon the complexity and size of the project and on the locations of the research.
We, however, are a small agency with low overheads and no London or New York office to support.
When you brief us for a project we will discuss a ballpark figure with you before we do a detailed quote. If this does not work within your budget we can take another look at the size, complexity, and structure of the project at that stage before we progress too far along the wrong track.
We love interesting projects and will work with you to get you the insights you need at an investment level that you can afford.
We have specialist techniques, so face to face research requires that our moderators travel to the location and this, along with subsistence expenses, adds cost. However, there is no substitute for sitting in the environment with the consumer, for meeting them in person and having the opportunity to visit their homes, their marketplaces, their shops etc. just being in the same climate and environment as your consumer ensures a radical understanding of your consumers.
In person research allows greater flexibilty in terms of methodology and samples as our learning develops. It also allows for blind sampling.
In our experience online groups don’t provide the depth of insight we demand. Therefore, we always conduct 1:1 interviews online which ensures our methodology is most effective.
As respondents are now more used to using Teams/Zoom etc. and with the amount of learning and experience we gained during COVID, even in remote areas in Africa, our online research interviews can be a good way of getting the insights you need.
So, if you are trying to decide between online and face to face, speak with us about the requirements of your specific project. Online will probably be a little cheaper and maybe a little quicker while in market face to face is likely to get you a little more depth and richness of understanding and gives the researchers more flexibility in terms of methodology and sample handling.
At The Marketing Clinic we have a few highly trained and experienced Consumer Psychologists. We also have a unique methodology which uses a combination of research and psychological techniques to get beyond consumers’ rational responses and understand the underlying emotional drivers of consumer behaviour.
Because of this we will send our highly skilled experienced Consumer Psychologists to the market rather than email our requirements to local moderators who are not trained in, or understand, our techniques.
That is the obvious bit.
We are also often then asked; “Since your technique relies on language, how can an English-speaking moderator really understand the nuances of language in the local tongue?”
This is, in fact, easier than it might appear. We use local interpreters in our groups to translate our questions and the respondents’ answers in real time, but at the same time as listening to what is said we are eyeballing our respondents, we take in facial expressions, body language, tone of voice etc. We then cross question to get beyond the initial answer.
In every culture foreigners can ask more “silly” questions than a local – they get it that you don’t understand. It is as they explain themselves multiple times and in different ways that we get to an in-depth understanding of what they are meaning.
Often local agencies or clients in particular markets will argue that due to “cultural differences” only locals will be accepted by respondents or only locals can really understand how their consumers think. Over 20 years of visiting different markets across the world we have found that consumers of all cultures, religions, ethnicity etc. are very welcoming of our moderators and often feel honoured that we have travelled specifically to hear their views. Quite often it takes an outsider, to see and understand what locals have just accepted as normal or a given.
Yes, it does add some cost for travel, however,our margins are not as high as many agencies’, so our costs are still very competitive. Moreover, when we debrief the people standing in front of you are the Consumer Psychologists that ran the groups, interpreted the findings, and wrote the report.
They will know the whole project inside out, they will be able to respond properly to all your questions and they will be able to recall every conversation with every respondent, what they said, how they said it and exactly what they meant.
We send our Consumer Psychologists to where the consumers are rather than use local moderators because we know that it is the best way to get you the best, most insightful findings, to enable us to make the most powerful recommendations that will have the greatest positive impact upon your business.
We have developed unique tools and methodologies to evaluate and understand consumers’ emotional reactions to branding, communications and product experiences. These tools enable us to track the consumers’ emotional response to each aspect of their brand and product experience, mapping their whole emotional journey as they interact with a brand and product.
While other researchers connect consumers’ product experience with the emotional change it generates, no one else tracks each shift in the consumer mood throughout the product experience and can explain why consumers respond in the ways that they do to each element of the branding, communications, and product.
Because we generate such a deep understanding of the consumers’ emotional journey and of the psychology that causes consumers to respond as they do, we are then able to give clear and actionable recommendations for product positioning, communications, and product development.
Once you understand the psychology of your consumers’ relationship with your brand and product you gain a new clarity on what is happening, why it is happening and what needs to done.
Our Consumer Psychologists will challenge some of the accepted wisdoms around your category, brand and product and encourage your team to look at your brands in a different way.
Understanding the psychology of how your consumer relates to your brand distinctly from your competitors is a superpower that should not be underestimated.
Not only how consumers relate differently to your brand, but which specific features of your branding, communications and product experience drive these different responses and why.
Armed with this knowledge your teams will view the roles of branding, communications, and product development differently. These become the tools that they are using to improve the consumers’ emotional response to the brand.
Not only will they have a clearer picture of what they are trying to achieve with these tools, but they will also now understand how they can use these tools to achieve it.
We work in any market anywhere in the world.
We have experience in markets across every continent except Antarctica (but Chris would love to go there if you have consumers that you need to research).
We use local agencies for recruitment and local logistics but always send our own Consumer Psychologists into the market to conduct the research in person.
Consumers will love your brand because it meets their emotional needs and makes them feel good,not because it does what it is supposed to or because it has great branding.
This is an emotional response to their brand and product experience, it is not a rational response to the branding, communications, product functionality or the ingredient list.
When you understand the psychology of how and why your consumers relate specifically to your brand it changes the way that you think about the brand.
Armed with this knowledge you will view the roles of branding, communications, and product development differently. These become the tools that you are using to improve the consumers’ emotional response to the brand.
Not only will you have a clearer picture of what you are trying to achieve with these tools, but you will also now understand how they can use these tools to achieve it.
Our Consumer Psychologists will challenge some of the thinking about your brand and work with you to build a brand that your consumers love and come back to again and again.
Speak with us about your needs and we will work with you to create the best project design to give you the answers together with clear practical recommendations to your problems.