Qualitative Research: A Different Approach to Focus Groups
You’ve done qualitative research to get insights into your consumers. Maybe you went into their homes or you did focus groups to talk about what’s wrong with the category and what they wish for. You’ve got shopper insights that reveal how they act when they’re in the store. Your R&D department has even created products or services that answer their needs.
None of that is wrong; it’s just the background information. All your competitors are doing all the same insights work you are: They all are finding the same category benefits.
The real work of marketing is separating your brand from the others.
Make it connect emotionally in a different way. Make consumers feel differently about your brand than they feel about your key competitors. That’s how a brand works; consumers share the brand’s belief system or set of ideals and values. We humans are drawn to brands that reflect the way we want to see ourselves.
So how do you start?
You have to get a good sense of your competitors. Do some in-depth interviews or focus groups with their brand-lovers, or field an online study. But make it qualitative. Personality and values are what you’re looking for, not the details like product features. If those competitors were people what would they stand for?
And then stand for something else. Be relevant but different. You have to plant a flag somewhere, which means you won’t satisfy everyone. This is one of the toughest things to do, because you instinctively want to please everybody. But brands that know themselves are the ones that are valued as brands. They have a clear of idea of who they are and stay true to it over time. Brands are like people you know and admire.
You’ve seen those categories where all the ads look the same. Those brands are probably in price wars to buy business. It comes from abdicating responsibility as marketers to do the job of creating the brand.
Standing for something bigger than category benefits is what creates loyalty because you’re providing something of value to the customer, a way for him to define himself. It helps insulate the brand from product feature one-upmanship. Ultimately it can protect the brand from price battles, allowing the company to reap the rewards over the long term.
Let me know what you think.
Marketing Research Consultant