Strategic market research
It is taken for granted that most research needs are tactical and specific, but few business issues exist in a vacuum. Because we understand and have worked for years throughout the business processes, we can supply insights and strategic solutions that are more relevant and actionable. Whether we provide research in just one area or guide innovation from concept inception through market introduction, we're committed to success and profits... yours.
All successful products start with an idea and a potential business/consumer market. Sometimes these are as sketchy as "people want more convenience," but more often the ideas and the markets are fairly well defined. This definition is what guides the development and ensures that the resulting product or service will stay true to the original vision.
IMRB International can play an important role in this stage by helping to establish a clear understanding of the market, clarifying or deepening the development team's grasp of key topics and providing feedback and information on initial concepts. Investment at this stage indicates a strong commitment to "getting it right."
- Understanding Consumers
Most successful products and brands start with a focus on consumers. After all, they are who will decide the ultimate success or failure of any market introduction. But "know your customer" means more than just gathering data. It means recognizing customers as a dynamic, evolving force. It means developing a "gut feel" that helps you think like they do, that helps you anticipate how they'll change and how they'll stay the same. You can't constantly be testing at every decision point, so you have to learn to think like they think.
There are many approaches to understanding consumers. The best offer a "real world" perspective, focusing on people's behaviors, attitudes and environments.
- Investigating market
Fully understanding a key topic or market is an excellent way to start a project. These investigations can provide fundamental knowledge about opportunities prior to investing significant time and money in product development. Market mapping, demand estimation and feasibility studies are the one IMRB International pioneered in. The shared learning and guidelines from these investigations can establish a common language and viewpoint particularly important for collaboration and team building.
- Developing concept
There are millions of good ideas that are developed into thousands of products and services every year. Most of them fail, miserably. Many of them could succeed if they just got the details right. But, in an effort to get to market quickly or to conserve money, product developers often skip research or do only cursory studies with a few consumers. Product development research can be very efficient and very cost effective, particularly when you compare it to the cost of failure.
In an ever-dynamic market what success takes is more than a good idea. It requires the development of a strong, unique personality that grabs attention and motivates customers. It requires the right mix of features and benefits and the right balance of price and value.
IMRB International can help create and refine all aspects of product development, working quickly and in line with the demands of rapid development cycles.
- Refining product/ service
Once in awhile, a product or service is such an innovation that it doesn't matter what it looks like or whether or not the maker got the details right. Most of the time, this is not the case. Most of the time, the look and feel of the product are extremely important and getting the features exactly right is the difference between a success and failure.
There are several stages to developing a strong identity. A typical starting point is the creation of a positioning strategy. This is the "story" that your product or service conveys and is the foundation of all communications.
The selection of a name usually follows the development of a positioning strategy. While a name's primary function is to identify a product or service, it must also communicate and motivate. An effective name conveys favorable associations about the product or services it represents. It is the hub of the package and the key to promotion or advertising. It has psychological connotations in relation to the product's perceived quality, character and price.
- Visual Identity
The most effective means of creating an identity or "personality" for a product or service is through visual elements; primarily, the brand logo and graphic imagery. These visual elements can add emotion and dimension to the product or service's identity and will guide all other communication elements, including packaging, merchandising and advertising.
- Web interface
The interface of a website is very similar to a software package. Visual elements need to communicate and guide usage in a concise, easily understood manner. Color, shape, layout, and functionality can all be used to inform users and create a satisfying experience.
Usability research can help designers and developers see interfaces the way their users see them. It can help eliminate confusion, increase intuitive usefulness and ease navigation and increase trust. By understanding the hierarchy of information required by users, research can often provide very clear direction on what needs to visible and what can be nested.
Many products and services have gone to market with great ideas and strong consumer potential, only to fail quickly. More often than not, the reason is poor communication elements. The packaging was unattractive or generic; the ads were boring or misleading; the promotions were irrelevant; the merchandising was confusing; cultural nuances were ignored.
IMRB International can help ensure that the message a product or service is intending to send to consumers is actually what they perceive. In addition, multilingual insights can guide you around potential linguistic and cultural minefields.
It is very tricky to research packaging elements. One is rarely be able to do this through direct questioning. And even when one can, it's important to understand the response thoroughly and in context. Although it may seem like overkill, well-executed research at each stage can make the difference between "ho-hum" and "home run."
A great product or service with a strong identity and excellent packaging can still miss the mark if no one knows about it. Ideally, advertising presents consumers with an offer they want or a message to which they can relate, communicated in a way that motivates them to action.
Advertising campaigns are routinely researched to ensure that their intended messages are getting through to the right audiences. That's the problem - the testing is routine. Strong, creative messages need customized research to make sure that novel approaches get the consideration they deserve and that new offerings are not lost in the clutter.
- Refining communication
Most successful products and services communicate with consumers in many different ways, including brochures, newsletters, mail order catalogs, direct mailings, websites and promotional offerings.
Research is a straight forward means of learning which modes of communication are most effective and motivating for consumers. Rather than being ignored and "tossed," well-researched communication pieces can actually improve a product or service's chance of succeeding in a crowded market.
Everything that surrounds a product can help or hurt its chances of succeeding. An effective merchandising strategy draws consumer attention to the product and enhances its appeal. Ideally, it highlights key selling points or special information that consumers will value and presents the products in their best light.
Research can offer design guidance for shelf displays, electronic merchandising, floor display, caps and other types of merchandising prior to investment in expensive tooling or small production runs.
Most truly successful products and services - those that last for decades or even centuries - realize that they are in a long term relationship with their consumers and act accordingly. This means they stay in touch with their customers to learn what they like and dislike and how their perceptions and behaviors change over time. They track trends and changes in the culture and modify their products and services as necessary.
IMRB International can help provide a very effective on-going link to consumers and markets, impart a deep understanding of market and consumer changes, and help ensure that redesigns are actually better than the original.
- Customer Tracking
A successful product or service only stays that way with careful tending. Monitoring consumers' experience of a product or service and acting on their concerns is crucial to a long market life.
Research that studies the consumer experience of a product or service is usually called Customer Satisfaction research. It usually asks customers to rate their feelings and perceptions. Unfortunately, this just scratches the surfaces and often leaves the best suggestions hidden under a pile of numbers. But IMRB International follows Walker Information models, which are more than just scratching the surface.
Even a cursory look at consumer culture over the past few decades reveals a constant stream of minor changes that, over time, amount to major change. Tracking and understanding cultural trends can help you anticipate change upon which you can create or enhance products and services.
Trend research studies the past, the present and the foreseeable future, looking for patterns that foreshadow cultural evolutions.
While consumers are generally resistant to dramatic changes, they are just as resistant to the lack of change. Not changing, becoming dated or less relevant, can mean sure death to a product or brand. Losing consumers in this way is possibly even more expensive than not finding them in the first place.