Increasing Your Research ROIby DJI
Here’s a suggestion for how to increase your ROI on the money you spend on qualitative research, especially traditional focus groups conducted in a standard facility. Basically, think of any empty chair in the back room as a missed opportunity.
We believe the back room should be full more often than it usually is. Obviously, those who need to observe the groups should be there: the research director, brand manager, agency, etc. And just as obviously, there are times when security requires limits on who gets to observe groups – testing reactions to a potential new product is an obvious one.
But there are almost always empty chairs behind the glass and often the security level is less than critical. Those chairs could be filled with trusted members of the company from other disciplines. There are smart, dedicated senior people in Accounting, IT, Manufacturing, Logistics, Sales and HR whose livelihoods depend on the success of the company’s products but who almost never get to see and hear consumers talk about those products. This is an opportunity that most will appreciate.
Yes, they need to be briefed about the process and its limitations but that’s easy. And after years of drinking the corporate Koolaid, it can be enlightening for someone in Quality Control or Sales to hear a consumer talk with passion about why a competitor’s product is more convenient, or better tasting or user friendly – in honest terms that may never be heard in the boardroom. And when the news is positive and flattering, that too can help.
The exposure can help them do a better job and it can be great PR for the Research or Marketing department whose budgets, if not their very existence, may be questioned at times by these same people.
One of the smartest clients we ever worked for used to insist that local Sales personnel attend groups in any given city so they could get a better feel for what consumers were saying about their (and their competitors’) products. It made them more educated and they felt more involved … and those were net gains for the company (and increased return-on-investment for research spending too).