Market research vs shopper insights: which fuels innovation?

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by David Gardner

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No matter how successful a brand is, feedback is always crucial to growth and innovation. And in today's high-stakes, ultra-competitive world, it's perhaps more important than ever to understand one's place in the market.

Traditionally, this knowledge is gained through one of two methods: market research and shopper insights.

Simply put, it's a mistake to think that both methods are the same or offer the same benefits. However, each has its own distinct place in the business world.

So which is best for fueling innovation: market research or shopper insights?

Read on to discover the truth and see how both fit into a brand's overall marketing strategy.

Market Research

First, it's necessary to have a comprehensive definition of what exactly market research is. After all, if it isn't the same thing as shopper insights, what is it?

Market research can be defined as the process of gathering and interpreting data to better understand customer purchasing decisions and interactions in the marketplace.

For a more in-depth look, here are three of the biggest goals market research sets out to accomplish.

Define What Customers Buy

Above all else, market research uses data-driven analytics to determine which products are selling and which could use some help.

With the assistance of said data, a brand can gain better insight into how its products are performing.

Unlike shopper insights, market research focuses on quantitative data. It's hard, data-driven science that gives exact figures down to the smallest detail.

Data is typically collected through customer feedback via closed-ended questions, ('On a scale of 1-5, how likely are you to buy this product in the future?' etc.).

Predict Future Purchasing Decisions

As any CMO can tell you, understanding the market is as much about the future as it is the present. The decisions a business makes today can greatly affect its performance tomorrow.

It's abundantly clear that the numbers and figures associated with market research can give a brand's overall health. However, they can help that same brand make more well-informed decisions by analyzing market trends.

Say that a brand is looking to expand into a new, growing market. They could jump headfirst into the said market and hope for the best. Or, with market research, they could make a calculated decision on how to best market their products to their ideal audience.

Establish a Brand's Public Standing

In the overall scheme of things, it's important to understand where a business stands with its customers. Profits are predicated on a happy market, after all.

Market research provides feedback that a standard business report doesn't. It lets a business know, straight from the customer's mouth, how they feel a business stacks up to their expectations.

Shopper Insights

With a solid understanding of the intents of market research, it's time to look into the world of shopper insights. If market research is concerned with what a customer buys, shopper insights focus on why customers buy what they buy.

Here are a few of the biggest objectives and how they differ from those in market research.

Define Customer Behavior

Customer insights are primarily concerned with giving a brand more perspective on their customers' attitudes and beliefs.

For instance, why did they choose one product over the other? How would they have reacted if the prices were adjusted slightly, or if the product was altered?

Insights are often far less structured than market research, but therein lies the beauty. It gives customers the chance to elaborate on their answers in a way that a numerical scale simply cannot.

Determine The Effectiveness of Advertising

Between brick and mortar stores, the internet, social media, email marketing, and TV and podcast advertisements, it can very quickly become easy to overspend one's marketing budget.

Therefore, it makes sense that most businesses are hesitant to jump into a marketing strategy unless they know it'll work.

Which is precisely where shopper insights come in.

Asking shoppers whether they remember seeing a certain ad or promoted content, for instance, is a great way to determine how effective and far-reaching a strategy really is and how to improve it in the future.

Offer Strategies For Improvement

Speaking of improvement, a global, diversified market means that customers have more options than ever, and in today's digital age, their expectations for how brands engage them, have changed.

Businesses can learn how they can better serve customers by asking open-ended, qualitative questions. These types of questions can still be designed in a variety of styles and formats, intended to reach customers on the go, and optimized for mobile engagement.

They can include straightforward customer feedback questions, or can go for more creative methods, such as storytelling, choose and rank, and photo pickers. The important thing is to engage audiences so they can complete these insights activities from any mobile device, and make the experience interactive, fun and thought-provoking.

When compared to traditional market research, shopper insights completed in an online community, enable the brand to engage in a two-way dialogue with customers, and go back to members when further elaboration is needed.

When customers are part of a community, and feel like their voice is being heard, they become more likely to share and reveal more. They also tend to answer more difficult questions, which require their input based on their unique experiences and motivations.

These answers, while not always pleasant, can help a brand keep its customers instead of losing them to the competition.

Which Fuels Innovation: Market Research or Shopper Insights?

So all of this circles back to the question: which is better?

That's a bit of a trick question, in all honesty. They're both two halves of the same whole.

Both are important to a business' marketing strategy and are crucial to understanding one's audience. They work in tandem to provide both identification ('What?') and elaboration ('Why?') to better serve both brand and customer.

It's recommended that a business engages with its customers via both methods to obtain the most information possible and make stronger, more well-informed choices in the future.

Strengthening Marketing Through Data-Driven Solutions

To wrap things up, data is the modern business' best friend. With this helpful information in tow, it becomes easier and more possible to capitalize on one's ROI.

It's understandable that not all brands have the time and resources needed to connect with their customers on a deeper level. That's exactly where Chaordix comes in.

With solutions for marketers and product innovators of every type, request a demo or our Participation Platform today and see just how easy it is to connect with your most loyal customers and gain more meaningful insights into their motivations, needs and behaviors. 

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