It’s been a fact of life in every business we’ve ever worked with or for that market research budgets are always stretched. There is always a list of things you want to do which goes way beyond what you have budget for. Interestingly, there’s usually a list of stuff you are doing that you could actually get away without doing, but that’s a subject for a different blog!
In the current environment that challenge is likely to be even more relevant. Budgets are stretched like never before and, realistically, will stay that way for some time.
So what can you do about it? Well, we believe dialling up your consumer connection activities can be a great strategy (we would wouldn’t we)! Here are three reasons why we think getting out and connecting can not only build better empathy and insight but also alleviate the pressure on your research budget.
1. A little goes a long way
Getting out and connecting with your consumers really doesn’t have to be expensive. You’re not paying for moderators, viewing facilities or data analysis. The principle behind all the projects we run is that we are constructing a connection experience that YOU and your team OWN and lead. We simply facilitate you getting the most from it. Indeed, sometimes you don’t even need to spend money on recruiting consumers, we’ve run projects where we simply observed consumer behaviour in a variety of environments. That’s free!
Just recently we got the entire leadership team of a Unilever owned brand out and connecting with consumers for less than the cost of a couple of focus groups. Rather than spending an evening sitting behind a one way mirror that investment got them out and interacting with real consumers in their homes. It also included getting the team together in a workshop to share their learning with each other and to crystallise that knowledge into a number of tangible themes of insight and implications for the business. It’s impact went way beyond the very moderate cash (and time) investment the team made.
2. It can re-activate and re-energise existing knowledge
Every business we’ve ever worked in has more knowledge than it thinks. Often in the form of past research that has been filed away and forgotten about or, maybe, never fully activated in the first place.
Consumer connection can be a great way of reactivating that knowledge and getting it back in the minds of and, most importantly, the decision-making of your teams.
The insight in your fundamental studies like segmentations are often a great opportunity here. It’s unlikely you are going to have the budget to fully re-run a big study like a segmentation a year or so after you initially commissioned it (and we fully agree you shouldn’t). However, it’s impact post those flashy, bells and whistles debriefs you initially did on completion of the study will have started to wane. New people will have come into the business that maybe aren’t as close to the rich learning it represents and some may have simply forgotten the insight embedded in the knowledge. Getting your teams out and engaging with your segments will revitalise those consumers in your teams minds. Remind them of why they are important and maybe even uncover some new opportunities and insights to exploit.
The small investment needed to re-engage with this past knowledge really pays for itself as it extracts even more value and action from an investment you’ve already made.
3. It will avoid you slipping into an empathy deficit
One of the biggest risks in budget constrained times is the risk of simply doing nothing. The world and your consumers behaviours and attitudes within it aren’t static. Cutting research and cutting a fresh feed of consumer perspective into the business can mean you quite quickly slip into what we call an empathy deficit. That ‘bank’ of fundamental knowledge about and feeling for your consumers can dry up and become outdated. Consumer connection is an important way to keep that bank stocked up and in credit even when you are having to restrict other research spending.
The leadership team of a large food retailer we are currently working with recognise this value. Once a quarter they incorporate a few consumer connections into their regular get togethers. Often on a hot topic that has reared its head in the last quarter or that they think may be important in future. It’s a very simple and cost effective behaviour to get into that keeps their empathy bank stocked up and often guides their decisions on where they can best invest money in more detailed research activities.
What’s stopping you?
So, even in these uncertain and cost constrained times, we think consumer connection has an important role to play in your business. Feel free to drop us a line to chat about ways in which your business could do more. We’re always happy to share our ideas and a conversation won’t cost you anything!
Get out, get smart, get efficient, get connected.