Psychology Today defines empathy as “the ability to recognize and share the emotions of another person.” Or for those who prefer their definitions from the literary world, there is always Harper Lee’s classic description from To Kill a Mockingbird: “you can’t really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.”
Well, for years businesses have attempted — in some fashion or another, and with varying degrees of success — to stand in their customers’ shoes and walk around. Among that group, businesses that have grasped the profitable wisdom of replacing guesstimates, gut feels and speculation with data-driven intelligence have turned to qualitative market research.
Simply put, qualitative market research is the process of understanding not just what customers (current and prospective) are doing, but why they are behaving, thinking and feeling in certain ways — and just as valuably, why they are not. This approach reveals the fundamentals and frameworks that, once understood, can be reliably used to create lasting consumer empathy — ultimately in order to cultivate a relationship, enable a transaction (whether B2C or B2B), and create lasting loyalty.
Indeed, the world’s most profitable brands are not necessarily those with the best technology, most advanced products, widest selection or best prices. Typically however, they share one incredibly valuable asset in common: the level of consumer empathy they nurture and leverage is far ahead of the competitors. Apple and Google are perhaps the most vivid illustrations of this. Yes, both companies have their detractors and critics, but that is far surpassed by their supporters and fans. Consumer empathy is not the whole story here, but it is certainly a major part.
Of course, businesses cannot create and nurture consumer empathy if they do not know who they need to empathize with — and what’s more, how to establish an authentic connection. That is where qualitative market research re-enters the discussion.
Qualitative market research helps businesses define and develop buyer personas, which are representative demographic and psychographic profiles of different customer types, often given names that represent their role for easier internal reference (e.g. “Facility Manager Fred” and “Technician Tom”). Robust and reliable buyer personas form the basis for effective and targeted product development, advertising strategy, marketing content, customer support policies and training, and the list goes on.
What’s more, qualitative market research helps companies optimize existing customer relationships to ensure that the remain strong and vibrant. After all, acquiring new customers can be 25x more expensive than retaining new ones, and increasing customer retention by just 5 percent can boost profit up to 95 percent. Yes, consumer empathy is truly this valuable!
To learn more about leveraging qualitative market research to establish a lasting and profitable relationship with your customers, contact the Communications For Research team today. You will speak with our co-CEO Colson Steber who will listen to your business goals and determine an appropriate market research plan to help you reach them.
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