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Marketing Magazine are currently running a campaign, asking industry leaders to share their predictions for 2016. In a recent article, Roisin Donnelly (P&G’s Brand Director for Northern Europe) talked about a move away from the ‘00’s prominence of the retailer’ and a shift towards ‘the age of the consumer.’

There has been much discussion around the use of data to ‘deeply understand your consumer better than anyone else’. Indeed it is a fundamental principle of marketing to ‘champion the customer’. However, using data in terms of quantitative figures alone, cannot give the quality of insight needed to secure a competitive advantage.

Qualitative research combined with quantitative statistics gives personal insight into the thoughts & feelings of your customers. If you’re measuring response to a video shared across your social media platforms, you might see a success in 100 shares, but under what sentiment are these videos being shared? In a worst case scenario the video could be shared to criticise the content within it, creating a negative sentiment towards your brands.

Many businesses have successfully implemented customer listening programmes which work as focus groups. These groups are coordinated by bringing people together from different segments within the business’s customer base. The groups are often created through the use of statistical, quantitative data such as; gender, age, postcode etc. However gender and age alone don’t give brands a true insight into their customers. I don’t know many 26 year old females who, like me, support Liverpool FC, love 90’s hip hop and aren’t ashamed to call themselves a Lord of the Rings fan!

The real value of these customer listening programmes, are the qualitative discussions which encourage customers to share their thoughts and opinions on certain topics specific to the business.

Discussion group

Many businesses who have successfully implemented these programmes have a B2C focus, but these programmes are just as relevant for B2B interactions. If you're working in the B2B space, gaining qualitative feedback from your suppliers for example could be an excellent way of improving the relationship, empowering your suppliers by giving them a voice and a chance to feedback.

Many B2B businesses run customer satisfaction surveys, some even with open questions – but the point of qualitative research is to listen to your customer’s response and then to delve deeper into their answers, something a survey cannot do.

Whether you’re in the B2C or B2B space, it’s worth considering how you can build customer listening and qualitative research into your plans to ensure you maintain your competitive advantage.           

By Bridget Leonard

Marketing Executive         

This entry was posted in B2B, B2C, tagged Quantitative, Focus Group and posted on December 9, 2015

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