Last week eYeka members attended ESOMAR Insight conference in Brussels where we discovered new interesting trends in research methodologies such as video ethnography or consumer engagement in data interpretation. So what did we learn?
Consumers become co-researchers
Many speakers agreed that the consumer role in the research process has increased dramatically. Today, consumers should be fully included in their own “behavior interpretation” process. They need to feel engaged. In other words, it’s all about real collaboration between market researchers and consumers. Collaborative, consumer-driven studies have become the driving force in market research. How could market researchers appropriate popular photo sharing applications on Facebook? One way would be to ask consumers to take photos of their daily life and tag them. How could researchers use chats and discussion forums? Why not organize a virtual focus group! That’s how market researchers mix “old” techniques with new (user-generated) ones. Niels Schillewaert and Annelies Verhaeghe from InSites online market research company focused on the importance of mixing top-down analysis when a market researcher looks at data with a special research question and bottom-up analysis where data stemming from consumers provides a research question. As “the consumer has more opportunities to learn about the market and more power to praise or criticize companies and products”, why not trust him more and why not involve him more in the market research process.
The power of visual information
Each day we go shopping we stock something into our fridge. But if someone were to ask us “What products do you have in your fridge today?” it would not be very easy to remember. It is not just a question of memory. Some visual details can reveal deeper insights about one’s consumption habits than textual information. Instead of asking questions, market researchers could start giving tasks to consumers. For example, during the ESOMAR workshop, InSites’ company representatives showed a case study where people were asked to share insights through photos about “what makes a meal special”. Consumers were invited to send photos illustrating these moments, providing researchers with rich information that couldn’t be captured otherwise with traditional survey methods.
Another example came from Face Group and Coca-Cola representatives. Speakers Philip McNaughton and Beth Corte-Real presented a case where consumers were asked to provide researchers with video diaries that illustrated their soft drink shopping experience. These self-made shopper videos, speakers agreed, added richness to data and helped to detect deeper insights. It is only with these self-ethnography tools that researchers could see how teenagers went shopping at 3 am in the morning!
Emotions still drive shoppers’ behaviors, as highlighted by many speakers. This is old news. What is new is the way emotions are measured. It is important to consider emotions as dependent on a particular situation. For example, if a seller doesn’t smile at all, a shopper can leave a store with a certain level of dissatisfaction. The important thing is that this situation should be captured in real-time. Speakers Orlando Wood from BrainJuicer and Wendy Lanchin from The Marketing Store noticed that marketers should think about an emotional shopper journey rather than a physical one. The objective for marketers is to understand how consumers are feeling during their shopping experience and to adapt more situation-based research techniques like self-ethnography.
“Authenticity”, “real time”, “context” – all these words were constantly repeated by the conference’s speakers. Rather than asking people “What did you buy today?” or “What do you like/dislike about this shop”, market researchers should focus more on a “real” shopping experience. That’s why visual self-observation techniques in a point of sale become particularly interesting. Hence, there’s one important idea coming from the use of these terms: market research is about real people and real situations, and research methods should be based on the context of the consumption experience.
Isn’t it real?