Shopper Insights: The Path to Purchase (Part 1 of 3)

Shopper's Path to Purchase There’s been a lot of buzz lately surrounding Path to Purchase – the course of events or activities that consumers follow from the first glimmer of interest in a product up through the point where they actually make the payment to complete the buy. By understanding the components of the Path to Purchase, marketers are able to strategize ways to maximize a product’s impact upon the consumer at each phase to ultimately win the sale.

Like many aspects of market research, there’s a lot more to this process than meets the eye – it can be much more complex than you’d expect. While investigating your product’s Path to Purchase, you’ll uncover some interesting shopper insights along the way, such as:

Much of the Path to Purchase may be purely mental. The actual physical path through a store from the shelf to the cash register can be an important aspect of your customer’s Path to Purchase, and it’s worthwhile to understand ways to overcome barriers and facilitate their way.  However, the most valuable insights often lie in the decision-making steps that precede the retail transaction.

Profiling Segments: The Most Dangerous Game

Segmentation Profiling: The 'Linda Experiment' I’ve been reading Daniel Kahneman’s new book Thinking, Fast and Slow, and I highly recommend it to any market researcher.  Be warned, though: the implications can be kind of scary.  One of the topics the book covers is the “conjunction errors” that people commonly make – as demonstrated by the classic experiment known as the “Linda Experiment” (see page 156 of Kahneman's book). 

Linda is described (keep in mind that the experiment is very old) as “31 years old, single, outspoken and very bright. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice and also participated in antinuclear demonstrations.”  Participants in the experiment are asked to indicate which is more probable – that Linda is a bank teller, or that Linda is a bank teller AND active in the feminist movement.  Even experimental subjects who were highly trained in statistics tended to choose the conjunctive description (bank teller AND feminist) as more probable than the simpler, more general description, even though it is impossible for a conjunctive to be more probable than any of the components of the conjunction.

Do We Really Need Behavioral Economics? YES INDEED.

A recent blog post by Brandon Ellse on Research World’s RW Connect blog argues :

Shopper price thresholds"How can behavioural economics practically change the market research landscape? This remains less than clear to me. We’ve all heard about the experiments, their control and treatment groups beautifully poised in anticipation of the 'ta-da' moment where 'real' human behaviour is revealed like a rabbit pulled from a hat. These behavioural economics-inspired tales seem to waft over our intellectual senses, leaving us with a strange feeling of certainty that only the perception of knowledge exclusivity can bring. I won’t lie, I’m impressed. Getting at causality is no mean feat and I am often left in awe of the ingenuity of these researchers, but I want practical application and I get the feeling that you do too."

The benefit of behavioral economics is the insight it gives into the proper specification of the models we use every day in marketing research Behavioral economic theories about how and why people overstate their estimates of frequency of purchase enable us to construct models that better predict actual behavior from the imperfect survey answers we collect.  Understanding that losses loom larger than gains enables us to construct appropriate non-linear price functions in discrete choice models.

QR Codes in the U.S.: Wave of the Future, or "The Next Metric System”?

This is part of an ongoing series of blog posts on Mobile Market Research technologies from the MarketTools Market Research team.

QR_code_scan.jpg Back in September I blogged about 5 things that every researcher must know about QR (Quick-Response) codes – those digital barcodes that allow users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application to scan the code and launch a web page, a survey, or otherwise connect to information. Since then, the hype around the technology has continued, countered by a lot of nay-sayers pointing out the limitations of QR codes.

Let’s look at some of these arguments against the technology and reevaluate if QR codes can still be an effective market research tool.

1.    QR code adoption in the US continues to lag Europe and Asia.  Some even say that the QR code “fad” has already come and gone.  Maybe it’s true that the technology will never catch on in the US as much as it has in other markets. There is plenty of evidence out there that Americans are less likely to adopt technology that doesn’t benefit us immediately (see: metric system). However, that’s not to say QR codes can’t still be a useful tool.

Thoughts on Market Research for 2012

Market Research Predictions 2012 Every year ends with dozens of prediction pieces looking back on the past year or ahead to the next.  Heading into 2012, some of the “Top 10” lists are expanding to 12 to celebrate, with topics ranging from beer to mobile infrastructureWhile there are many year-end lists for the market research world, I’ll offer a single theme instead – Convergence.

Mathematically, convergence may signal the arrival of computational limits or even the irrelevance of sequence order.  However, in market research  “convergence” is more like what happened in the convergence of the telecommunications industry – where several services are available from the “same pipe”.  Here are some examples of areas in market research where we might see convergence in the year ahead:

Social Media Predicts 250 of the Next 10 Trends

Professor Xavier With the year’s end coming, pundits are looking to the social media sphere to come up with their predictions for the newest trends for 2012.  But when it comes to looking for practical direction from the wild and wooly world of social media, I’d advise a little caution. 

Imagine asking a person on the street for directions to a nearby restaurant.  You follow those directions, but you can’t find the restaurant.  You backtrack your route to find the person who gave you the faulty information.  “Hey, mister,” you say.  “Your directions were useless!”  The stranger answers, “But you never asked me if I knew where the restaurant was!”  Social media can seem like it’s populated by people who are more than happy to give you directions even though they have no idea where the restaurant is.

What Will It Take to Move Market Research Forward?

Progress in Market Research There have been many calls of late for Marketing Research to become more progressive (for example, see the recent blog post from Jeffrey Henning taking off on Coca-Cola’s Stan Sthanunathan’s view that “the industry must change”).  Technology adoption and creating meaningful analysis of social media were hot topics at The Market Research Event (TMRE) held last month, and both the client and supplier sides are experimenting with new trends. 

But while it’s true that the industry needs to move quickly to adopt technologies, blend methodologies, and broaden the reach of research, there is precious little information on how to make these changes.  As a supplier, we at MarketTools have seen that there are a couple of key ingredients in the partnership with clients that make innovative projects worthwhile:

On the Importance of Clearly Constructed Objectives in Market Research RFPs and Proposals

Many market research RFPs and proposals lack well-defined objectives – and sometimes the objectives are completely missing.  Two observations are relevant to this topic:The Cheshire Cat

  • In Wonderland, Alice asks the Cheshire Cat, “Please, can you tell me how to get out of here?"
    The cat replied, “Well, that depends on where you want to go.”
    Alice answered, “Anywhere, as long as it's away from here.”
    “Well then, any road will take you there,” was the cat’s wise reply.

Conference Report: The Market Research Event 2011

TMRE_logo.jpg The Market Research Event (TMRE 2011) is always one of the most exciting market research industry events of the year – and from our experience in the MarketTools booth, as well as talking to attendees in the sessions, the three days were incredibly yet enthusiastically busy.

The Keynotes, especially Anne Mulcahy’s kickoff “Leading Through Transformation” and Sheena Iyengar’s “The Art of Choosing”, provided a terrific opportunity to re-think our roles as researchers.

Anne’s “Transformation” theme was embodied by several sessions that focused on ways to communicate research results more deeply into the organization.  Overall, the role of the market researcher is changing:  from proving that data is statistically relevant, non-biased and methodologically sound to converting the data into a story, with insights and recommendations suitable for the boardroom.  This trend is gaining speed, yet is far from complete.  The circle of end users for market research continues to move beyond R&D to creative agencies, brand managers, and line-of-business managers. 

Market Research ROI Vs. Pay for Performance

This is a follow-up to a previous post about Measuring the ROI of Market Research.

ROI on Market Research A recent Greenbook blog post by Edward Appleton, exploring the question “Should Research Agencies be Paid for the Value of Their Insights?”, got me thinking again about the ROI on MR Conference organized by Bob Lederer last summer.  We had extensive discussions about the fact that the hard part of calculating the ROI (Return on Investment) for market research is the “R”, which is usually measured in dollars generated. 

Because market research projects endure a long and complex process from initial definition to final execution, the specific value of the output can be difficult to determine.  That value is also dependent on how companies use their research data to develop actionable plans that directly impact business results.

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Blog Honors

MarketTools Blog Team

Alan Cutler
VP, Client Development, Market Research

Mark Glassberg
Regional Vice President, Market Research

Hank Khost
Senior Research Manager, Market Research

Laura Newton
Senior Manager, Marketing Communications / Blog Editor

Jay Pluhar
Vice President, Strategic Accounts, Market Research

Larry Praml
Director, All Channel Tracker, Market Research

Kathleen Relias
VP, Client Development, Market Research

Russ Rubin
SVP, Client Services, Market Research

April Turner
Senior Product Marketing Manager, Market Research