Motivational Research, Semiotics, Usage & Attitude

Motivational research, semiotics and usage & attitude (U&A) studies are qualitative research methods that support the development of marketing and brand strategy. They directly feed into key marketing processes including insight generation, product development, positioning, development of brand key, and packaging and creative development.

Motivational research explains the underlying needs that drive behaviour. It focusses on identifying the emotional needs that are central to relationship between the brand and its consumers. Depth interviewing is the most effective and efficient mode for conducting motivational research. It relies heavily on the skills of the researcher to build empathy and create an atmosphere where the respondent feels uninhibited to express thoughts and emotions.

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, depending on the context, the colour red signifies distinctly different connotations. It 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.

Usage and Attitude (U&A) studies provide information about consumer attitudes and usage behaviours for the category and brands. It is important that the scope of these studies, which may be quite wide, is aligned with business objectives. 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 to identify growth opportunities for brands within the various segments. The information collected includes details of usage dynamics — frequency of use, quantity bought, reasons and occasions for use, brand awareness and usage, demographic of different types of users, attitudes to category or life in general, functional and emotional needs driving category purchase, shopping behaviour, satisfaction/dissatisfaction with category, and issues/problems and their resolution.

Qual followed by quant research is the typical approach for conducting U&A studies. The qual phase usually involves depth interviews/group discussions to explore and identify the issues that need to be tracked in the quant phase.

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