A crisis the size and scope of a global pandemic is going to continue to change everything. Most notably, your customer. Brands and companies can no longer ignore the need for a radical reset on consumer profiles, categories and products. Paired down budgets, concerns for safety and staffing add to the challenge taking full scale qualitative research projects out of the picture. So how do companies get those rich, nuanced insights?
There’s no shortage of data. The question for many is what to use, how to use it and do we have the right people to interpret it? An often overlooked and underutilized resource ideal for adapting to our changing world is first-party data—call center data, survey verbatims, online community transcripts, website comments, net promoter score comments, etc. What most companies don’t realize is the treasure trove of insights hidden there. Further, market researchers or the innovation teams are not readily connected to or even aware of the potential use for this internal resource. As someone who’s spent the last nearly 30 years founding and building startup consumer insight solutions, I know it’s all there.
It was during a recent webinar, in which I participated, on what’s next for brands and market researchers that I started thinking about how first party data can uniquely help, particularly during a time when budgets are slammed and insights are vital.
Gregg Archibald, Gen2 Advisors, closed the webinar with the ways in which market research departments and suppliers are changing. The shifts that are providing timely, critical assistance included “any method utilizing existing data, from a meta-analysis approach, social media analytics and call center analysis.” These sources and techniques address company standards for safety, speed, and budget requiring no unique data collection.
The value of first-party data was supported in a recent Think with Google post about digital marketing strategies in our new environment. Dan Taylor, Managing Director of Google Ads, makes the case; “Harnessing your own first-party data paints a clear picture… so that you can better understand your customers and how their needs are changing.”
It’s in the analytics
Machine learning, natural language processing and AI are the technologies to look for but be careful how you choose. Mining meaningful insights from the data you have is dependent on the solution you use. I believe that data tells stories, and with the right solution you can go beyond sentiment and key words to identify the values and emotions driving consumer behavior. This is when and how you can connect with customers around what really matters to them and motivates their choices.
For even richer, more relevant insights, if the data is formatted with demographic information, the analysis can be sliced up to reveal distinctions between gender, age, location, marital status, income and more. In the hands of a skilled analyst this data can reveal product quality issues, customer journey challenges, confirm the alignment of your customer with your core equity, identify opportunities based on unmet needs– any of the objectives you’re trying to meet.
A recent conference wrap up blog post reported that “Allison Schoer, Senior Market Research Manager at LinkedIn, discussed how her team is using natural language processing software to extract both qualitative and quantitative data from open-ended survey questions, ultimately allowing them to tell more cohesive, engaging stories to their stakeholders.”
It is the pace and uncertainty of change that presents the main obstacles to truly connecting with your customer. No one knows exactly where we’ll all be on the other side, but if you can stay in touch with your customers through timely, insightful and efficient first-party research you’ll have a powerful understanding of their shifting needs and how you can meet them.