Consumer Research: don’t think you can get out of it!

It is 2015 (if you did not know) and I don’t understand why companies still think it is okay to make new products or change existing products – especially fast moving consumer goods (things people use everyday!) – without conducting some research on the target market first and seeing if they will actually like the change or new product?

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Today’s managers cannot afford to make decisions based solely on intuition and guesswork. There are too many factors in today’s dynamic environment that make it imperative for organisations large and small, to learn how to manage the constant flow of information.

Consumer research, by its very nature is looking at how individuals make decisions to spend their resources (time, money, effort) (Schiffman et al 2001), can provide information that is used to set objectives, control direction, evaluate courses of action and and make an exhaustive search for, and study of facts relevant to any problem in the field of marketing. Banerjee & Soberman (2013) stress that research is a key management tool because it presents an accurate and critical objective investigation of a problem or idea.

Let us look at a very recent case of Glad Wrap; The Australian household staple decided to change the design of their clingwrap cutting tool, where the company changed the sides of the metal cutter from the bottom to the top. The big move sparked a furore in ktchens across the country!

The ‘modification’ was a part of a few changes to the ClingWrap, said Glad. More clingy that ever. Safer than ever. You have to now rip up.

The ‘modification’ was a part of a few changes to the ClingWrap, said Glad. More clingy that ever. Safer than ever. You have to now rip up.

This unexpected change got people all over Australia taking there complaints to social media and talk-back radio. People demanding Glad to change it back to the way it was!

from facebook.com/gladaustralia

from facebook.com/gladaustralia

Glad Australia responded, saying almost two-thirds of the consumers who trialed the changes actually preferred the new pack. Interesting. Alas people power has prevailed over the clingwrap battle. Glad Wrap has announced the original cutter will be making its way back to the base of the box in coming months.  Glad Australia marketing director Phil James told The Herald Sun “We have heard the message loud and clear. We are working through this with urgency and our objective is to get the product back as soon as humanly possible”. It is expected it is going to cost the company hundreds of thoushands of dollars to go back!

OH THE ANGER!!! imgae via http://tinyurl.com/lntjtj2

There are so many lessons is as to why consumer research is so important, even though Glad indicated they did conduct ‘extensive in home research’, it clearly was not done effectively resulting in exorbitant costs and negative brand reputations.

Of course effective and thorough research does not guarantee correct decision making but it considerably improves the chances of this happening.

Glad could have benefited from more qualitative research methods such as focus groups, in depth interviews. This would have identified the varied feelings, knowledge and behaviors of the consumers about the product change. Furthermore, as Gummesson (2007) suggests observational because it highlights the in-depth understanding about the consumer and the product, especially how they use it!

A quantitative study may then be conducted to corroborate this data found and give it the numerical proof, a way to profile and report the findings. Alternatively, Glad could have conducted more research into the actual advertising and promotion of the new product and try and get the change to appeal to more people.

Consumer researchers need a thorough understanding of the entire market picture before they can start to not only design the research, especially in regards to repackaging fast moving consumer goods (Rampier 2012).

What are your favourite brand fails caused by inadequate market research?

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Reference List

Banerjee, S & Soberman, D 2013, ‘Product development capability and marketing strategy for new durable products’, International Journal of Research in Marketing, vol.30, no.3, pp. 276-291.

Gummesson, E 2007, ‘Access to reality: observations on observational methods’, Qualitative Market Research, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 130-134.

Rampier, M 2012, ‘SALES PROMOTION OF FAST MOVING CONSUMER GOODS’, International Journal of Logistics & Supply Chain Management Perspectives, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 59-63.

Schiffman, L 2001, Consumer Behaviour, Prentice Hall, Australia

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