Markets are constantly in a
state of flux. All around us we see changes driven by powerful market trends — digitization
and personal empowerment through computing and internet, emergence of the net
generation and their social media, growth of glamour queens, metrosexuals and
ubersexuals, health consciousness, trade modernization, fragmentation of media
and so on. The need to immerse in the world of consumers is as acute as ever.
Consumer immersion is all about getting close to
consumers so that associates are able to see their brands and their markets
through the eyes of their consumers. They get exposed to real consumers and
real issues. The main techniques used for immersion into the consumers’ world
- Day-to-day personal experiences.
- Observing qualitative research sessions such as focus groups or
- Interviews/probing sessions with consumer.
- Accompanying consumers on their shopping trips.
- Observing consumers in their homes or some other natural setting.
- Video recording or diary maintained by participants:
Proliferation of mobile video recording devices makes it feasible for participants to record
their activities. Participants doing so are encouraged to relate any thoughts and emotions
that arose during the activities.
- Living with people in their community for a period of time (a
week or more): This is known as ethnographic research.
It differs in that it involves participating in people’s lives, whereas
the other techniques mentioned above are confined to observing people.
To effectively immerse, associates need to learn to
listen emphatically, with the intent to understand. They also need to be
cognizant of the effect they may have on participant’s behaviour. Observing
unobtrusively is important because observation tends to alter behaviour, a
phenomenon referred to as the Hawthorne Effect.
In addition to active immersion, marketers rely also
on research fields that supplement consumer and knowledge immersion and feed directly
into the insight generation and strategy development process. Some of these
research fields are listed below:
- Usage and Attitude studies
provide information about consumer attitudes and usage behaviours for the
category and brands. The considerable amount of information that is contained
in these studies can be used to segment consumers on the basis of their usage
as well as their opinions, and identify growth opportunities for brands within
the various segments.
- Semiotics is
the study of signs and symbols, and how they are used in different cultures. It
allows us to understand the implicit meaning these codes communicate, in the
culture and context within which they are used. For example, the colour red
signifies luck and prosperity in the Chinese culture, love or anger in the
West, losses in a financial statement, and danger or caution on the roads.
- Motivational research explains
the underlying needs that drive behaviour. It focusses on identifying the
emotional needs that are central to the relationships between the brand and its
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