Market Research: Can You Hear Me Now?
J. Beckley (1) and H. Ashman (2). (1) The U&I Group, Denville, NJ. (2) The U&I Group, Powell, OH. Cereal Foods World 52(4):201-203.
For the past decade, understanding consumers has become a key driver for product development. As both marketers and product developers seek “secret” insights into consumer thinking, the methods of interacting with consumers have changed. Orthodox methods such as focus groups and taste tests have been both celebrated and vilified for producing both right and wrong insights. As companies ramp up product development activities with shorter innovation cycles, the need to understand more quickly and more thoroughly what consumers have to say becomes critical. Despite this, companies can fail to understand or hear what their customers are saying, despite having good consumer testing tools in place. The problem is that ethnographies, observational research, and even focus groups require listening to hear. More importantly, focused listening is needed to learn. When companies want to go fast, this learning has to happen not only faster, but more clearly for the team. So how do we make listening to consumers more impactful for the individual and the team? Learning theory helps us understand how to listen better. Learning theory (Gagne conditions) suggest that there are different levels of learning and outlines nine instructional events and the cognitive processes that go with these events.