As a growing brand, some of the most fundamental, and difficult questions to answer are:
“Who is my target customer?”
“What do my customers really want and how do we innovate to stay ahead of the curve?”
“How do we position our brand to be relevant with consumers?” (most commonly millennials)
While intuition, syndicated market data, and expertise are all valuable, the answers may be closer than you think… Start by engaging consumers in the conversation through your own market research.
Years of experience have taught us that consumer insights are foundational to building competitive advantage when setting a growth strategy, positioning your brand, or driving true innovation. Consumer research can help prove and disprove core hypotheses and illuminate new opportunities that may be blind spots for the internal team.
As a strategic brand consultancy, we rely on consumer research as a key input to successful strategy.
1. DEFINING YOUR TARGET: Growing brands often make the mistake of trying to be “for everyone", but strong brands understand the importance of more precise targeting. Consumer research can help you understand what segments represent the best opportunity. A strong brand strategy is built with a target consumer(s) in mind. This enables you to develop more meaningful messaging and experiences that resonate. It is more powerful to build a brand that is hyper-relevant to a target audience than diluted and boring to the masses.
2. DEVELOPING EMPATHY: Strong brands have a strong sense of empathy — they understand them as people, not just customers. And marketers often forget: you are NOT your target customer… so never assume you know them. Understanding their lifestyle, what drives them emotionally, and the everyday problems they solve are key to positioning your brand to be relevant and creating meaningful products or services.
3. MAPPING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: We live in an experience economy. The strength of your brand and customer relationships depend upon how consumers experience your brand across all touchpoints. Building brand loyalty is more difficult than ever. Every interaction consumers have with your brand matters, but not all interactions are weighted equally. Mapping out your customer journey helps prioritize which touchpoints are most meaningful. From there, you can develop signature touchpoints that delight your customer and invest in the experiences that may be broken.
4. CREATING DIFFERENTIATION: Today’s consumer has access to research the competition at their fingertips at all times. Many clients are shocked when consumers are “wrong” about their brand or product. It’s not that the consumer is wrong, it’s that the brand’s positioning lacks clarity. Research helps us uncover the perceptual gaps in consumers’ minds and how the consumer views your brand vs. the competition.
5. SMARTER INNOVATION: Many cite this Henry Ford quote as rationale against research: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” The breakdown here is the way we use insights for innovation. We’re not asking consumers for the solution or to innovate for us. We’re bringing them into the conversation to identify and validate problems to solve, underserved needs, and fresh perspectives. If the customer wants “faster horses” our job is to unpack WHY they want faster horses and extrapolate how we can innovate to win.
6. STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS: Markets move faster than ever. Margins are under pressure. Dollars are finite. Businesses need to prioritize investments to what ultimately moves the needle. Market research, particularly quantitative methodologies, helps leaders make informed bets on the product features, capabilities, or variations (e.g., flavors, sizes) to capture the greatest market share.
If you find your brand wrestling with the questions above, start by talking to consumers to make better-informed decisions. At Spectacle Strategy, we partner with our clients to design the right research approach to meet their specific objectives and budget. In our next post, we’ll explore how to align your objectives to the right methodology.