Jumping through hoops: research gets agile.
Undoubtedly, there is still a place for traditional large-scale, quantitative research. This is still the best way to gather the ‘Big Data’ that drives much of what we understand about consumers as a block. To drill down, however, and get to know what individual consumers think, believe and feel, a more agile approach is required.
These two methodologies are not mutually exclusive: each has a role to play, and they can be complementary. Qualitative research can help unlock the value in Big Data by letting brands truly get to know their consumers.
Today’s consumers – also known as ‘digital natives’ and ‘contemporary consumers’ have opinions about brands, whether the brands want them to or not. And with the proliferation of social media platforms, these consumers – born into, and completely familiar with, a world where connectivity makes everything possible and where the internet has broken down almost every barrier – are able to express their opinions more powerfully than ever more.
Reaching these consumers involves not only learning about them, but showing that you respect them. It’s all about putting the consumer first.
South Africa is a wonderfully diverse place – it’s not called the Rainbow Nation for nothing. Copying and pasting from other countries has never worked. Instead, what’s needed is a homegrown approach. Local is lekker, and if you want to know, you need inside knowledge – in other words, you need a local research company that can get inside the heads and hearts of African consumers.
Agile research places the consumer at the heart of the process. This new approach centres on ‘the 3 Cs’: converse, convince and convert. In other words, it’s about dialogue, encouraging shifts in brand perception, and triggering sustainable changes in behaviour.
It’s all about getting out there and getting to know the consumer. Going to where they are, whether it’s the mall, the taxi rank or online. African communities are dynamic, and the sands are shifting all the time. As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.
It’s always going to be easier for local companies – the research agencies who ‘get it’ – to gain the trust of communities and individual consumers. This comes through spending time with them, and paying attention to what they have to say.
Being agile means tuning into the airwaves of consumer culture, and getting on the right frequency. It means learning about culture and lifestyle, and adapting the research process to fit this new knowledge.
With agile research, consumers are people, not data points. They have feelings and back stories. They might not dream the same dreams or want the same things. But they do appreciate being valued. This can best be achieved by adopting a consumer-centric approach: it’s a conversation, not an interrogation. In other words, listen to consumers as well as talking to them.
Be respectful and you can even ask questions about subjects that were once taboo. This is especially important for research into thorny health questions such as attitudes and behaviour around HIV/AIDS. Qualitative research – seeking opinions – is closely aligned with the idea of ‘self-care’ in the wellness space. That is, consumers are increasingly turning to online resources to learn about and improve their health.
When you add mobile technology into the mix, agile research becomes even more powerful – and time, space and budgets are no longer a problem. Now you can connect with consumers on their terms.
In short, agile research lets you:
- Ask the right people the right questions;
- Get answers in less time and for less spend;
- Automate the process;
- Apply what you’ve learned immediately;
- Risk less and worry less;
- Gain consumer trust; and
- Really learn what people think.
To be agile, you need to understand local consumers. You need to stop, look and listen. That’s the only way to cross the road to better, more relevant products and services without getting run over by changing trends. Don’t be chicken: get agile.
Do you need to extract more value from the results of your quantitative research? Contact Opinion today and experience what the difference that agile research can make.