Recently some of our recent work and a sharing session with another agency led to an interesting discussion. First here are the research examples that started the discussion:
The question is have consumers become less relevant in the research process today? Here are just 2 issues around this question:
1) Besides the apparent boredom of researchers and marketers with ‘traditional’ focus groups, the kind of questions that are being asked by brands have changed. In the first example above, research was meant to provide insight to inspire rather than just explore. With innovation becoming a necessity for brands, the role of research is changing from evaluation or exploration to inspiration. This requires us to look at research approaches differently and therefore re consider how and when we involve consumers in the research process
2) With the pervasiveness of the digital world, there are many more ways to get to consumer voice, as is evident in the increase of passive research. These new approaches lead to questions of whether direct interactions with consumers (online communities, face to face interviews etc.) really tell us the ‘truth’ or spontaneous responses like passive research does
Despite the changing ways, consumer voice has never been more important in organizations. Consumers have not become irrelevant, just what consumer voice within organizations is all about and how we get to it has changed.