Understanding your future customers – today
For brands to succeed over time, they have to be able to recognise and connect with tomorrow’s customers. Yourfuture, part of MRM, specialises in helping brands with strategic innovation, insight and foresight: Tracey White, Head of Insight, explains four key truths.
‘In the moment’ consumer listening is crucial to deep insight
Traditional research methods, such as focus groups and depth interviews, can still play a role in today’s fast-paced digital world. But relying entirely on consumers’ powers of recall is far from ideal. ‘In the moment’ experience and sub- or semi-conscious factors can be far more revealing – which is why exploiting mobile ethnography and online qualitative techniques will generate deep and emotionally rich insight. We’ve used both techniques to help Cancer Research understand “The Future of Giving”.
Knowing our customers better today isn’t the same as understanding what they’ll be like tomorrow
Listening closely to consumers’ needs and drivers is key to identifying possible market gaps – but to avoid ‘rear mirror view syndrome’, it’s also important to develop foresight, not just insight. We adopted a ‘Present Forward, Future Back’ approach for Kellogg’s, developing platforms to reveal innovation opportunities for First Meal of the Day. This combined in-depth consumer studies (Present Forward) with bespoke methods and techniques, such as Future Panels (eclectic groups of sector-experts) and Future Trend consultancy (aligned to a client’s own brand – not just generic observations).
Consumer response to innovation ideas must also be future-focused
Quantifying opinion and robustly testing new ideas to justify investment is as important as ever – perhaps increasingly so for companies needing hard evidence (not just hunches) to win board approval. Predictive methods – such as our Future Opportunity Quantifier™, which has been commissioned by many clients, including AkzoNobel and Bernard Matthews – enable clients to see the real potential in a fresh idea several years hence. They also help clients understand which brands in a sector are best placed to exploit the latent potential of a winning concept.
No single technique for consumer closeness will address every issue – that’s why expert researcher advice will never go out of fashion
Research techniques and methods have increased and evolved exponentially in recent years. But no single approach is capable of solving every dilemma, or spotting and refining the best new opportunities. Deep knowledge and hands-on experience of a wide spectrum of tools and techniques remains paramount. Current clients, especially those such as Allianz and Drayson Technologies (who work in specialist sectors), rely on ongoing dialogues as the optimum way of approaching a challenge, to ensure their research budget is always well spent.