By Sally Lo
I’m a big fan of Pantene’s Pro-V daily moisture renewal shampoo. It works well, the price is right and the packaging design is “clean” (no pun intended). I also like to try new shampoos. So when I got the chance awhile ago to attend a focus group on shampoos, I thought, “Great!”
The session was a personal interview with a moderator. She was hired to ask customers for their opinions on various brands while behind a tinted glass window, unknown executives observed our conversation in the next room. Focus groups are one form of market research, which can make up part of a company’s marketing strategy. A focus group can be used for a new product launch or a product re-design.
A shelf was stacked with various brands of shampoo. Shampoo A had been redesigned with a new bottle and new logo. I explained that I preferred the old packaging with the clean graphics and smaller
sized bottle. She looked slightly annoyed and tried to change my opinion. She even excused herself and had a discussion with those behind the tinted glass.
After she sat down with me again, she asked about my views on Shampoo B. I told
her the truth. Yes, I had used it before but it wasn’t effective on my dry hair.
And so, I won’t buy that product again. She seemed uncomfortable. Again, she
conferred with the group in the next room. When she returned, she ended the
session. I was paid $80 for 20 minutes of my time.
I felt confused afterwards. Why pay good money to find out your customer’s opinions and then reject them as being wrong? There is a brilliant article by Michael Skapinker in the Market Leader Business English textbook (Upper Intermediate, New Edition) titled “Customers First”. He writes, “The purpose of a business is to provide something that a customer wants at a price he or she is prepared to pay…It is the customer who determines what a business is.” It is that simple. Without customers, a business ceases to exist.
Marketing is the presentation, advertising and selling of a good or service. One important aspect of marketing is market research. In the book “Consumer Behavior for Dummies”, Laura Lake explains, “(Market research) is often needed to ensure that you produce what consumers really want, not what you think they want…In this day and age, most businesses can’t afford to take chances on ideas without getting more information about what consumers want and what they’re willing to pay…”According to the website for Queen’s School of Business, the benefits of a marketing plan are increased sales, customer retention, a better brand image and better understanding of customer wants. Small businesses are unique and have certain advantages over large corporations in marketing. We will focus on this in more detail next month.
Dwayne Reno CEO & Founder
Social Chat Blog
Once a month, Building Block Associates serves up some food for thought with our foodservice Social Chat Blog.