As a marketer, if you want to keep up with the latest consumer trends, performing consumer market research is a necessity.
The tried and true methods of performing consumer market research are established. From brand sentiment studies to Net Promoter Scores tracking consumers’ likelihood to recommend, there’s no shortage of techniques used to gather consumer insights.
But what about some of the new consumer market research techniques that aren’t as well-known?
Let’s explore five of the most innovative consumer research techniques and how you can use them to fuel your market research strategy.
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
With mobile technology, the internet, and social media, the scale of data being generated on a daily basis is exponentially larger than ever before.
In fact, in 2020 alone, we created 2.5 quintillion data bytes daily.
Traditional market research tends to be both costly and slow. By taking advantage of the data created on a daily basis, we can use more efficient methods for gathering insights.
Enter artificial intelligence.
AI is designed to take some of the load off by handling more of the “grunt work” involved in consumer market research. AI can quickly scan and organize massive amounts of data, including open-ended responses to survey questions.
AI can also use algorithms to make the flow of survey questions more conversational, with follow-up questions that learn from the previous responses.
This process can increase efficiency, from screening your pool of potential respondents to mining responses to inform better business decisions.
Predictive modeling within AI can also predict which community members may churn, allowing you to get ahead of the curve and incentivize them to stay.
It’s also “democratizing” market research—smaller brands that don’t have the ability to contract a large market research study are able to reap the rewards of consumer research with AI.
In short, AI allows market researchers to focus on more rewarding tasks, such as making recommendations and crafting surveys, and enables brands to make more informed decisions, tapping into the wealth of data available to them.
Biometrics is a technique within the field of applied consumer neuroscience that involves using technology to understand consumers’ unconscious thoughts and emotions. It generates an undiluted response—meaning that it’s not filtered through the consumers’ conscious mind.
When consumers use their conscious minds to answer questions, they may not always be entirely honest, whether because they aren’t sure of an answer or they’re worried about how it will be perceived. But it is harder for your body to lie – that’s the science behind lie detector tests.
The process for collecting consumer insights through biometrics typically involves presenting consumers with a stimulus, such as a product image or advertisement, and then measuring their biometric response.
Examples of Biometrics in use in market research include:
- Heart rate monitoring – This method measures the consumer’s heart rate to determine response. For example, a consumer could wear a small camera and an Apple Watch (or other heart rate monitor) in a store. The two devices would work in tandem to track and measure the consumer’s heart rate as they encounter products. An increased heart rate would signal a product that catches the consumer’s interest. A similar exercise could also be done via Virtual Reality.
- Facial coding – In facial coding, a camera captures the consumers’ facial expressions as they encounter a stimulus, such as watching a TV commercial, and codes them into key emotions, including joy, sadness, surprise, disgust, puzzlement, anger, and more.
- fMRI – fMRI is the process of monitoring brain activity to see what parts of the brain are activated when a consumer encounters a stimulus. For example, monitoring the brain to see if a particular product activates the “pleasure center” of the consumer’s brain. This procedure is still relatively cutting-edge and the results can be hard to interpret.
Mobile technology has created a wealth of new information for marketers to tap into, including contextual data like geolocation data. Geolocation allows brands to track which consumers are visiting their brick and mortar retail locations via their mobile phones. Combined with other data, brands can build persona profiles and deliver hyper-targeted messaging to reach them.
Geotargeting also allows you to capture “in the moment” insights, such as pushing a survey to consumers after they just left a retail location (or while they’re still there). This process is known as “geofenced surveys”.
Geotargeted surveys are highly valuable because they address one of the biggest challenges in market research: screening and finding the right target consumer to interview. What is their opinion of their shopping experience? Did they make a purchase? Why or why not? Geolocation allows you to capture this data while it’s still fresh in the consumer’s mind.
The traditional method used for geotargeting was to station people on-site with clipboards or to mount an iPad at physical locations. However, this can be very expensive and resource-intensive. Today geotargeting is much more efficient with the use of mobile technology.
One example of geolocation in the real world is Macy’s. They use in-store “beacons” and Bluetooth technology so that users who opt-in can receive targeted offers and promotions based on the store aisle they are currently browsing.
Content analytics involves sifting through the huge amount of publicly available data online, from social media posts to discussion forums and product reviews, and finding the meaning within by uncovering hidden trends and patterns.
Content Analytics incorporates AI tools with Natural Language Processing (NLP) to extract meaningful information. NLP is a computer program’s ability to understand how people talk. By harnessing a wealth of publicly available data that has already been generated, content analytics can potentially save you the trouble of having to conduct a study.
Through Content Analytics you can capture consumer sentiment, understanding whether consumer comments are positive or negative across channels. There might be an issue with your product hurting your performance or sales that you are unaware of that can emerge after analyzing online content. Or you can use content analytics to identify emerging trends that are popular with your target consumer demographic.
Content analytics can also offer competitive insights, helping brands determine what people are saying about their biggest competitors.
Consumer market research often involves presenting consumers with a stimulus and having the consumer react. Virtual reality is an immersive way of replicating or simulating that scenario for the consumer.
Virtual reality usually involves a headset with a screen that the virtual environment is projected onto, as well as gloves that can relay the consumers’ hand movements into the virtual environment for interactivity.
For example, let’s say you are designing a theme park. The actual theme park does not exist yet, but you can present the park’s planned layout to a consumer in a virtual reality environment and have the consumer do a “virtual tour” of the park and provide feedback.
Similarly, you can simulate a retail store experience. A consumer could walk through the virtual store via VR and determine which products they would buy. What store aisles does the consumer go down? What items catch their eye?
VR allows you to test consumer experiences with a product or service, saving time and money over building physical mockups or transporting consumers to a physical location.
Innovative Consumer Research Techniques Continue to Advance
Tech and software continue to take leaps and bounds forward in complexity and ability. With these advancements, innovation in consumer research and insights grows as well.
While many of the traditional methods for gathering consumer insights and researching your market remain effective, these five innovative consumer research techniques offer the opportunity to tap into new sources of robust and meaningful insights.
Questions About Innovative Consumer Research?
At Vesta, we pride ourselves on helping brands access the predictive insights they need to enhance decision-making and accelerate their growth. Reach out to us with any questions—we’re more than happy to help.