Marketing research may well be the ugly stepsister of marketing.

Not nearly as sexy as video, social media or blogs. Not as fun as advertising and promotion. Not as innovative as product development. Boring, really.

It’s even the source of one of my favorite marketing spoofs. Too much data. Useless data.

So how can it be sexy? Interesting and appealing?

Qualitative Research Data May Thwart Your Assumptions

As a product manager or marketer, it’s important to understand what your customers know and think about your brand, and how they use it. This is commonly called an AAU study (awareness, attitude, usage).

In conducting marketing research for a corporation that assumed it had great brand name recognition and loyalty, I found the vast majority of its buying customers didn’t even remember the brand they had purchased. Not only did they not have brand loyalty, they didn’t even have brand awareness! A hard message to deliver to the client. But good to know.

Understanding the voice of your customer ensures that you’re spending your marketing dollars wisely. It can help guide your marketing plan.

Another corporation referred to its service offering with its initials. It turns out, the voice of the customer was entirely different. I discovered that not only did the customers NOT refer to the service by its abbreviated name but also they didn’t use the unabbreviated form of the service name. The corporation wasn’t even speaking the same language as its customers! Imagine how that plays out in digital and print marketing materials. Or for keyword searches to enhance your search engine optimization.

Qualitative Marketing Research May Enlighten You

I’m not a huge fan of quantitative research that compiles a mountain of statistics and data, showing which creative concept or brand name is most popular.

What is interesting to me is the qualitative feedback—the comments and insights that prospects and customers may give you.

Sometimes this can inform product development. Other times it can help you decide whether or not to launch a product at all. Or how to name it.
With naming research, you want to ensure that your name does not connote other meanings—particularly in other cultures. The Nova is a classic urban myth of a name that means new star in English but south of the border is translated as “no va” or “doesn’t go.”

Real life examples of this do occur all the time. I created and named a diagnostic tool for a rare disease called “A to G, Is it H.A.E.” The title worked great in American English. However, in British English, the medical name hereditary angioedema is actually hereditary angio-oedema. Although the patient UK population also refers to the disease as HAE, “A to G, Is it H.A.O.” would not have had the same ring to it.

Another example of cross-cultural naming problems include that of a Korean technology company that brought its middleware JEUS to the West. Not surprisingly, a quick Google search asks, “Did you mean Jesus?”

Qualitative Marketing Research Must Deliver

While collecting the awareness, attitude and usage (AAU) in your marketing research, it’s also important to speak to the right audience up front. Another classic marketing example tells the tale of a dog food that was approved for purchase by owners, but ultimately rejected by dogs. Sales plummeted.
Are you speaking to the ultimate decision makers? Do you understand all the dynamics of your space?

Get Your Sexy On

Before you go to market or produce that video, ensure that you understand what’s sexy about marketing research, particularly insights revealed in the qualitative marketing research interviews.

Listen to the voices of your customers and better meet their needs.

Nancy Burgess

Nancy Burgess is the owner of Nancy Burgess Strategic Marketing, a marketing consulting firm and online agency. In that role, she integrates her corporate success as a digital marketer along with her marketing agency experience in marketing communications and branding to help businesses prosper. Nancy's specialties are search engine optimization (SEO) and content creation. She graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, holds a master's degree, and also multiple marketing certificates from DePaul University's graduate school. She is a frequent presenter on SEO strategies and has worked in digital marketing since the late 1990s. As someone who can strategize AND execute, Nancy offers digital and traditional marketing services to SMBs. Agency value without agency fees. Along with SEO and content strategies, Nancy's agency offers website design, marketing automation, integrated marketing strategies, and branding to her clients.