The essential purpose of B2C market research is not, contrary to what some people outside of the market research field believe, to generate information from customers.
Obviously, this is a core part of the story. But it is just a means to an end, because what businesses need — and what they are paying for — is actionable insight, so they can make smarter and faster decisions that achieve organizational objectives. These may include increasing brand awareness, improving brand perception, adding more new customers, selling more to existing customers, and the list goes on.
However, many businesses that conduct in-house B2C market research end up with plenty of raw information, but precious little — if any — actionable insight. Further, most of these businesses do not realize their dire situation until they start making critical decisions. For example, the B2C market research information (which they mistakenly believe is insight) may tell them that reducing price will increase brand perception and boost sales. Yet this may not be the case at all, and it could be years later before this truth is revealed.
What’s more, many businesses that have been down this road blame B2C market research itself for steering them in the wrong direction. But this is simply not the case. The core error wasn’t with B2C market research that, when executed properly, certainly generates actionable insights and ROI— which is why the world’s most successful B2C enterprises spend millions of dollars a year on B2C market research. Rather, the core error was (once again) mistaking information for insight.
Clearly, the best way to solve this costly problem is to avoid it from erupting in the first place. To that end, here are 4 best practices to ensure that you get actionable insights from your B2C market research:
Make sure the sample size is large enough.
If your sample size is too small, then identifying real differences between responses can be extremely difficult to detect — and critical insights may, and likely will, go unnoticed.
Make sure participants are screened.
It’s convenient to reach out to active and loyal customers for feedback, since they tend to make themselves available to participate. But unless the B2C market research question is specifically targeted for active and loyal customers, then the resulting data is going to be heavily skewed and therefore unreliable when applied to all types of customers. For example, the business may have a very real and serious brand problem related to quality, but this is almost certainly not going to be detected if everyone who is asked about quality is a happy, repeat customer.
Use multiple methods to validate insights.
It’s wise and often necessary to use a mix of qualitative B2C market research methods in order to validate data. For example, augmenting a social media survey with one-on-one interviews can — and often does — reveal valuable insights that cannot be derived from just one source.
Create stakeholder-specific recommendations.
Take for example the insight-driven recommendation “we need to improve our customer service.” Naturally, this means different things to various teams. Sales teams may think this means that support agents need to be better informed and trained, whereas support agents may think that sales teams need to do a better job of telling customers what’s in store after they make a purchase. While this is going on, executives may think that marketing teams need to create better collateral, while marketing teams may think executives need to stop adding new unrelated product lines and diluting the brand.
The takeaway from this traffic jam is that for insights to be actionable, they must also be stakeholder-specific. Otherwise, even if the insights are valid (i.e. customer service needs to be improved), it will be a struggle to determine how to make that happen.
To learn more about how to ensure that your B2C market research delivers what matters —actionable insights — contact Communications For Research today to speak to our co-CEO Colson Steber. We can advise your marketing team on how to move forward, or we can handle some or all of the B2C market research process on your behalf, from sourcing and screening participants, to analyzing data and generation stakeholder-specific recommendations.