The Evolution of Market Research: Mining Social Consumer Market Insights
By Rebecca Carson, Head of Research Services, Brandwatch
There’s a palpable movement in the market research world. It’s not earth-shattering, and it’s not brand new, but it’s proving incredibly powerful and chances are you already have access to some of the tools needed to exploit it.
The Rise of Social Consumer Market Insights
Social media isn’t a new frontier for those in market research and consumer insights roles, however, it is evolving as practitioners layer and blend different data sets with social consumer market insights (CMI). Social CMI is breaking the boundaries of data extraction, by revealing the powerful insights social listening and analytics provides for brands.
Collecting the Raw Voice of the Customer
Social media is one of the most valuable sources of raw consumer opinion that remains unfiltered and unsolicited, and available to be implemented directly at the heart of numerous departments in a business.
The voice of the customer (VOC) is vital to brands and agencies. It informs customer care departments, which is becoming ubiquitous on social. It helps educate brands about specific targeting with every single marketing initiative. The VOC can signal brand health and reputation issues, and even flag potential opportunities for sales, product gaps that need addressing, and help frame business strategy. Its home is in the market research and consumer insights teams, but it’s reach is far wider than the industry could have anticipated even in the last five years.
Blended Customer Data
Customer opinion data analytics and market research has a long-standing history of coming either from surveys or focus groups or another form of direct consumer feedback. While these remain an important part of building the voice of the customer within businesses, social data has opened up a world of unprompted, detailed consumer opinions, needs and motivations. This huge dataset, while not without its own challenges and biases, complements (and in some instances replaces) traditional customer opinion data perfectly, by providing the detail of a focus group at the scale of a survey. Social data also complements other forms of customer and market data, providing insight not only into customer opinion but behaviors in online spaces. Connecting multiple online, social and offline datasets, brands can now understand how their consumers feel on almost any subject, when and where they’re talking and to which networks they belong. They can model this against sales data, web traffic, search, brand equity mapping and the occurrence of any number of potential other impactful events – from weather to politics – to build a full picture of their consumer’s world and truly drive business insight in a customer-centric way.
One channel of information simply doesn’t cut it anymore for the biggest brands and agencies that need a holistic, 360-degree view of their current customers, prospective consumers, and target audiences. Implementing social data listening and analytics won’t suffice, unless smartly layered and/or analyzed against various other data sets.
Behind the Social CMI at Global Brands
At Brandwatch, we recently published a new paper detailing best practices of social CMI experts, including specific use cases and ideas from professionals at some of the world’s biggest brands and agencies. Sparked by roundtable conversations during Brandwatch’s first user conference, Now You Know, Brandwatch collated the responses for the paper “Ideas from the Experts: Social Consumer Market Insights”, free to download here.
The discussion touched on the impact of social consumer insights on digital, content and influencer marketing, and how brands and agencies are tackling issues in these areas and beyond.
The expert group of guests at our roundtable included a senior director of analytics at a consumer electronics company, an analyst of consumer insights at a global retail brand and a social media and market research strategist at a non-profit organization. The report details insights into how they use social CMI to better understand their customers, as well as real-world examples of how social CMI has impacted business.
Tactical Data Blending
One key area that rose to the top of the social CMI discussion is the tactic of blending (or layering) social data with traditional research, in-store sales and in-person feedback data, CRM data, even web traffic, e-commerce and more. One of the retail brands represented detailed proactive and strategic action-taking thanks to insights from social data, and another shared how social CMI helped them define a value proposition for an important client.
Our guests also covered how they use social CMI to assess brand health, and even predict brand health.
Social CMI Beyond Marketing
Social media can be used for more than confirming or negating a predetermined belief, or as a measuring stick for marketing campaign success. It can be the alarm alerting supply chain management to stock specific inventory before competitors catch onto the trend. Social data can help brands unlock the power of their own “brand-ividuals”, engaging employees as niche influencers. Even the investor relations department can benefit from social data, if fed the right insights at the right time.
Here are some quick examples of how social data can be used beyond the consumer insights and marketing teams:
- Product development
- Give the people what they want by unearthing customers’ true feelings about a specific product feature, and feed these insights to the R&D team for product advancements and adjustments
- Investor relations
- Prepare for a funding round, IPO, or board meeting with social CMI related to your competitive industry landscape and share of voice; stay ahead of the competition by being in the know when it comes to your industry’s trends
- Brand sponsorships
- Monitor and analyze conversations around celebrity sponsors, partners and other relevant parties; using social CMI to fuel decisions about who to work with (and potentially who not to work with)
- Employee advocacy
- Everyone is influential in an industry/topic/interest area and employees can be your strongest advocates; find out which of your brand’s employees are niche influencers and activate them (along with their communities) through relevant brand content and highly strategic/customized engagement
Social CMI, Now!
The use of social CMI is not a secret; it has graduated from a nice-to have to a must-use tactic for all market researchers and consumer insights professionals that want to glean a rich understanding of their customers and above all, engage and help them benefitting both the company and the consumer. Read the complete paper for free, and learn how major brands and agencies are applying social listening to extract real, business impacting market insights.
The evolution of market research isn’t some concept to consider next quarter, or further down the road. It’s here, and social CMI is essential to unlocking its huge impact on business success.