Getting into the Heads of Consumers - Consumer Behavior Marketing

In today’s fast-paced competitive world, it is crucial for businesses to get into the heads of their consumers. Brands need to know what the consumer is thinking consciously and subconsciously to design better products, determine the price of the product, develop marketing strategies, and decide the channel of their product distribution. In short, every business-related decision is taken by keeping the customer in mind. This consumer insight will not only help the company sell better but will also help the company get a competitive edge over its competitors. When companies collect information from customers, it can generally be done in two ways −

  • Qualitative method for collecting consumer data.

  • Quantitative method for collecting consumer data.

In this article, we will mainly focus on the various qualitative methods for collecting consumer data, what those data imply, and a brief overview of the quantitative method for collecting consumer data.

Quantitative Methods for collecting consumer data

This is a method of data collection in which the companies provide customers with questionnaires. Customers have to fill out this questionnaire as per their understanding. There could be several ways to formulate a question. Each type of question has its own set of pros and cons to offer the customer. Companies can use the following types of questions to invoke the general feelings of the customers −

  • Dichotomous questions − In this situation, the respondent has to choose between two answers. It provides the user with simplicity. Generally, yes and no is the answer types.

  • Multiple choice questions − In this situation, the respondent can choose from multiple options for one answer. It provides the respondent with many permutations and combinations for the answer. For example, which flavors do you like in cream biscuits? The answers could be chocolate cream, vanilla cream, Nutella cream, and others.

  • Likert scale − In these questions, respondents have to choose how likely they are to agree or disagree with the particular scenarios. It helps the company understand the situation and gives more accurate answers. For example, on a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend the product to a friend?

  • Semantic differential − It is similar to the Likert scale, but instead of choosing a number or agree, disagree, or strongly agree on options, respondents are asked to mark themselves on the space. The two ends of the scale are the two extreme points. I strongly agree and strongly disagree.

  • Open-ended questions − Companies can even ask open-ended questions to the respondents. These open-ended questions are more beneficial because the companies can understand the respondent's choice of words and feelings. It helps the respondent express himself in the manner they want and not within predefined parameters of judgment. Open-ended questions can be of different types. Some of the types are word association, sentence completion, story completion, pictures, and thematic appreciation tests.

Quantitative methods for collecting consumer data help the company reach out to a larger target audience and provide it with generalized data that can be analyzed easily, but they do not provide the company with deeper and more insightful insights. For that type of insight, we have qualitative methods for collecting consumer data.

Qualitative Methods for collecting consumer data

It is a method that helps the company understand the consumer's perception of the product, service, or brand at a deeper level. It is not only limited to certain words or choices but will also help the company understand customer perception. Companies will not be defeated here because, in quantitative methods for collecting consumer data, respondents might lie so as to play smart or may not understand the question. But since there are limited people out here and they will be dealing with experts, companies will be able to overcome these issues. The various qualitative methods for collecting consumer data are −

  • Word association method − In this method, the respondents are asked to list down all the words that come to mind when they hear the brand name or when they hear the brand tagline, along with reasons, This will assist the company in understanding how the general public, or respondent, perceives the brand, whether positively or negatively, and how it can be changed to benefit the company.

  • Projective techniques − In this method, the respondents are given a particular scenario or an incomplete and ambiguous situation or stimulus, and then they are asked to complete it. This will help the brand understand how the consumers perceive the brand's image and what use the brand has for them.

  • Visualization method − In this method, the respondents are asked to create a collage of pictures from magazines, drawings, or photos when they hear a brand’s name. This helps the brand understand what kind of associations the consumer has with the brand. They can be positive or negative. The famous Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET) could also be used. For example, a ZMET study was conducted for the pantyhose brands.

    After reading the study, it was found that there were primarily two sets of customers: the first set associated the brand with "fence posts encased in plastic wrap" or "steel brands strangling trees," while the other group associated the brand with "tall flowers in a vase'. This clearly shows that one group was heavily dissatisfied with the quality, product fit, and brand while the other felt confident and happy with the brand and its offerings.

  • Brand personification method − This is a method in which the respondent is asked to draw an image of the brand. The respondents are asked questions like, If the brand were a person, what would they look like? What clothes would they wear? If the brand went to a party, how would they react? If they talk to someone at the party, what will they talk about? What kind of job might the brand have? What kind of friends will the brand have? What vehicle will the brand drive? and others. This helps the company a lot in understanding how the customers perceive the brand and what the general brand image of the brand is among the public.

  • Laddering method − It is a situation in which the customers are overwhelmed with questions. These questions generally start on a very basic level, but it is like peeling an onion. With every answer, the respondent is asked another why question. These questions help the brand understand a lot of deeper and hidden meanings. This really helps the brand understand the consumer motivation while buying the product and the brand. For example, why would you want to buy a Samsung phone? What do you think the Samsung phone will provide you with? Why is it important for you to have what the Samsung phone is providing? and others.

Qualitative methods of collecting consumer data will assist the company in better understanding its customers as they evolve, but they do have some drawbacks. Since the study is so in-depth and difficult to conduct, the sample size for these studies is generally small. So it is difficult to get a broader view. It is a costly affair because of the time and resources needed to do the study, and most importantly, all of the answers are subject, so it is sometimes difficult to read them.

The doctor advises the company to use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to collect consumer data. Companies have to understand their customers to serve them better. This is no longer an option but a mandate.

Updated on: 21-Apr-2023


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