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Market Research: Conclusions or Conjectures? The Exploration Mindset

How can we enhance survey data to go beyond direct customer responses? Contextual data and informed conjectures are two efforts that may help.

We all know that people lie. Not necessarily intentionally, but perhaps to save face or provide what they think is the “right” answer.That’s why contextual data is an important corollary to consumer-driven surveys in uncovering what’s really happening to draw consumer complaints. 

The Market Research Technology Event in Las Vegas recently brought out several interesting ways that companies are using contextual data to better understand their users. For example, Zynga compares user progress in games with survey feedback to uncover the areas of the games that may be most confusing or difficult for users. Comparing what customers say with what actually happened—in a game or in a car—plays a crucial role in understanding not only the root of the problem, but also the nature of customer perception and how it relates to problems. This clarifies the need to not only resolve specific issues, but also address how customers experience products.

Reflecting that sentiment, Coke’s VP of Marketing Stan Sthanunathan recommended using an exploration mindset, not a conclusion mindset, when conducting market research. Too often, market research is undertaken to support a specific conclusion or reach a specific endpoint. But today’s complex and rapidly changing world makes that not only difficult, but also less useful. A better approach is to engage in ongoing exploration of consumer sentiment, with frequent checkpoints to gauge status and compare with previous conditions.

Enprecis’ philosophy extends along these lines. Our Continuous Quality Insight program offers dynamic analysis tools that can produce both static snapshots of data, comprehensive views of large data sets, and insights trending data over time. And by offering consumer opinion in context with data about vehicle components, we help differentiate between consumer confusion and mechanical problems. This allows engineers to develop a deep understanding of the customer's perspective and the technical reality.

When driving, it's not just the car ahead of you that matters. It's every car on the road. Market research, even when focused on a narrow topic, has to keep the big picture--and contextual data--in mind. How are you using the exploration mindset in your consumer research?

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