Online market research and consumer surveys are making a big, bottom-line impact on how consumer product industry leaders are positioning their brands through packaging, advertisements and placements on grocery store shelves.
According to Inside Research, more than 60 percent of all concept testing is done online, and that number is expected to grow. Why? Simply, the Internet is a more efficient platform for conducting consumer surveys.
By leveraging the Internet, product companies can increase their consumer research reach to more highly targeted, yet diverse market groups and with greater speed and efficiency, thereby dramatically cutting research costs.
"Clients such as AT&T, Kraft and Kellogg's come to us all the time needing immediate, highly targeted consumer feedback for their packaging, communication, promotional and product-development campaigns," notes Carol Fitzgerald, president of BuzzBack Market Research (www.buzzback.com), one of the country's leading online market survey and research companies.
Pop-Tarts Yogurt Blasts
In late 2002, Kellogg's approached BuzzBack when it was developing a competitive launch for Pop-Tarts Yogurt Blasts, a new toaster pastry product extension of its successful Pop-Tarts brand. Yogurt was the key new ingredient. Kellogg's wanted to test four unique product names with primary buyers and consumers—children (and mothers of children) who eat Pop-Tarts. Kellogg's primary objective for BuzzBack's online survey was to create a new name for the product that would be compelling to Pop-Tarts consumers.
Pop-Tarts Yogurt Blasts was the winning name for both kids and moms. But, prior to the launch, Kellogg's needed to understand not only which name was most preferred, but also the "whys" behind one name scoring better than the others for effective promotional development.
Literally over a weekend, BuzzBack surveyed 175 mothers and their children (since respondents under 13 years of age need to have parental permission to participate in an online research study, according to guidelines set by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998). Respondents reviewed the new concept name choices, packaging design ideas and messaging statement about the yogurt ingredients and nutritional value. Not surprisingly, mothers and their kids independently came up with different but positive reactions to the new product.
Beyond the solid quantitative data, the results also included important "why" insights for the Kellogg's team. Several moms gave high marks to the test packaging, including comments like "fun-colored box" and "box stands out." Other insights: Mothers recommended that Kellogg's highlight the nutritional benefits of the product on the packaging. The kids gave high marks to the packaging, too, noting that "the package is great," "highly colorful" and "the Pop-Tarts themselves are the same as they have always been, but with a great twist, mixed in with the fruit are fingers of yogurt. Definitely a must-try!"
A more adult research project
Early in 2004, a world-renowned liquor marketer approached BuzzBack with a different challenge. It wanted to introduce a new product into a highly competitive and discriminating liqueur market in the U.S. and Canada (both English- and French-speaking provinces).
In addition to tracking cultural and language differences, the spirits producer asked BuzzBack to verify and build on previous studies of the product's name, packaging and bottle design, and suggested retail pricing. The survey was conducted both in the U.S. and in Canada. The pool of respondents—target drinkers of the product—included a mix of consumers. The respondents were asked to react to the product idea and packaging and name visuals in a variety of forms.
Research confirmed the spirit producer's product direction and provided a "check" that the name and positioning would be appealing in both U.S. and Canadian markets. These results were based on the survey's key metrics or "scorecard for action."
With turnarounds often as quick as 48 hours, an online consumer survey can tell a packager a lot about optimal product placement or package design effectiveness—which colors, graphic treatments, fonts and packaging structures work and which don't.
Along with key quantitative measures, BuzzBack determines why consumers react to one brand treatment, design scheme or messaging component, versus another.
"Our clients have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in new product launches," says Fitzgerald. "They want more than ‘flat' quantitative statistical information. They want emotional insight. What drives a consumer to choose their product at that all-important time of purchase? This insight is imperative, especially when a company has a tired brand, or store-shelf product differentiation is seemingly impossible."
BuzzBack uses a proprietary question-and-response methodology called Blended Research™ that involves probes constructed so that consumers can give feedback on how or why a packaging design affects them. Their responses are measurable. "We want to understand how brands and packaging work their way into peoples' lives and what emotional or nostalgic relationship they may have to them," Fitzgerald points out. "This information is crucial, yet difficult to ascertain in straightforward quantitative research."
Understanding this information is critical to the success of today's packagers, who are faced with a proliferation of new-product introductions and extremely high failure rates. Knowing the consumer's point-of-sale emotions can be a competitive weapon.
More information is available:
Online research:BuzzBack Market Research, 646/519-8010. www.buzzback.com. Circle No. 206.