Over the years, many of the brands we know and love have undergone frequent transformations to arrive at their current offering. From changing product lines to varied approaches to marketing, a successful brand — regardless of industry — is ever-evolving. The key to a successful evolution, however, can be found in the process which informs that change.
Market research is the collection and detailed analysis of information about consumers, target markets, competitors, and the demand for (and effectiveness of) product and service offerings and marketing campaigns. This research comes in many forms, including customer surveys, product testing, questionnaires, focus groups and more, and is typically used before a product is introduced or ‘revamped’.
Leveraging the power of customer insights, brands around the world have been able to maintain and grow their customer base in meaningful, sometimes monumental, ways.
Now, more than even, companies of all types and sizes should be leveraging market trends and customer feedback to stay relevant when it comes to products, messaging and engagement.
Starbucks, the multinational chain of coffeehouses and roastery reserves, has spent much of its existence utilizing market research to ensure their marketing messaging and products are in line with consumer expectations. In 2008, Starbucks launched their ‘My Starbucks Idea Platform’ as part of a ‘transformation agenda’. The way it works is rather simple; customers (or potential customers) and employees can go to the website to submit feedback and ideas. Oftentimes, this information will detail suggestions for new offerings, changes to existing products, or requests to bring back old, seasonal products.
Between 2012 and 2017, there was a significant increase in the sales of dairy-free milk alternatives (61%, to be precise), and Starbucks was quick to get behind this trend with the help of their market research initiatives. In 2004, the company began offering soy milk and, in 2015, they launched drinks with coconut milk and, a year later, almond milk.
Starbucks notes that a major reason they added these dairy-free options to their menu was because they were some of the most requested offerings on their My Starbucks Idea Platform’.
Historically, LEGO considered their target market to consist mostly of young boys. After a study revealed that only 9% of the ‘primary users’ of the toy were female, the company went back to the drawing board to brainstorm a new line of products that could appeal to the female demographic. To inform this process, LEGO conducted a 4-year market research study involving 3,500 girls and their mothers that included girls’ playing habits and preferences.
When the research concluded in 2012, the company launched a new line of toys called ‘Friends’ which offered bricks of vibrant colors, updated packaging, and larger figurines that could accommodate accessories such as hairbrushes and purses in their grips. The new line was a huge success, because the company had an intimate understanding of what their target market wanted, and were then able to make the product more appealing.
Apple products are seemingly always evolving. Just as the consumer excitement surrounding the last iPhone has settled to a simmer, it seems a new release is already being teased. Of course, consumers have come to expect continuous innovation from the tech giant. The company’s commitment to consumer-lead releases, enhancements, and marketing campaigns is, undeniably, a key ingredient in their success formula. Apple strategically uses market research to discover exactly what their customers want from their products, and then they get to work making those expectations an accessible reality.
Notably, the company employs an “Apple Customer Pulse” research group which consists of online surveys that are easy to participate in, and highly informative for the brand. Over the years, these surveys have helped to inform modifications of existing Apple products (such as bigger screens, improved battery life etc.), as well as the development of new products.
Tapping directly into customer insights, brands can determine whether or not they are on the right track, or make critical decisions regarding the future direction of a given product or service. This, oftentimes, represents the pivotal piece in an evolution which is a roaring success, or one which falls flat.
Ready to talk about ways market research and custom surveys can help your brand gain insights, stand out from the competition and drive sales, contact us today!