The new question arises of how are we going to make sure that our message is reached by our intended target and what methods will we use and why.
The most important aspects of what we want to discover in this new research is consumer behavior and interaction with our products. This will be done in various numbers of qualitative and quantitative methods as described below.
The Participant Observation method would be used to find out the consistency of the business’s customer service skills as well as point out weak elements in serving. This would be done by using a ‘mystery’ shopper to visit the store at unknown times of the day on various days. No one would know who this ‘shopper’ was or when they would visit as to stay any ‘prep’ time or false behavior. The shopper would grade the service and store on many levels to include but not limited to cleanliness, friendliness, promptness of service, the freshness of the product, supervisor on duty and product knowledge.
Direct Observation will give business raw statistical information to allow them the knowledge they need to expand or decrease a product line. This information can be gathered from receipts or stock. This will allow the business to know how much of what products are selling, and the frequency of these sales. Also, it will inform the business if there are ‘seasonal’ type items, which are only purchased during certain times of the year, and what is favored throughout the year.
My favorite method would be Unstructured Interviewing, the best way to do this could be after a customer has made their purchase and are sitting down, someone can visit them and start a casual conversation about the product in general and allow the consumer to speak their mind. This can be done with a member of the management staff or a plain-clothed worker. Also, this could be done at a mall or other venue where people visit. A ‘questioner’ can ask if someone has a moment to let the ‘questioner’ know what the person thinks about gourmet popcorn and treats. With no real question asked, this allows the consumer to speak freely about anything they believe with the product.
Now the strongest quantitative method to use will be the survey. The survey can be performed in a numerous number of ways from the most common written survey to telephonic surveys. For most business needs, the ‘how is our business doing’ type of volunteer survey would benefit them greatly. This card would be left in the establishment for customers to fill out at their leisure with no pressure to do so. There is a dropbox they can leave the cards and can be completely anonymous. The questions asked on the card can include the same type of subjects as the mystery shopper would view from cleanliness to product knowledge and promptness of purchase.
Another type of survey that would highly be highly beneficial for business would be a written survey to identify if there is a desire for another location and or new products. These questions could be asked in a manner as to make the consumer feel that their needs are being met. ‘How far do you travel to visit said business?, If there was a __blank__ closer to where you live would you visit more frequently?, Is there a ‘favorite’ type of service/product you would like to see offered at business?’ and various other questions.
As with everything, there are good and bad reasons to use each method. Although, overall and time tested these are the strongest methods to find out the needs of our targets and to help us understand if we are meeting those needs or need to alter our strategies.