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Sweet! How Consumer Data Improved Market Research for a Candy Company


You know the age-old struggle in market research – get as many questions answered as you possibly can - without actually crossing that obscure line where you risk collecting bad data from fatigued respondents? Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. A lot. It’s something I’ve tried to carefully balance over the last 10 years as I’ve had my hand in many research questionnaires.

Fortunately, my quest for additional data has become much easier over the past year. So, that's the topic of my blog post today. Here's my market research story. It has a pretty sweet ending.

Discovering a New Source of Data for Our Market Research

When FGI Research & Analytics merged with Web Decisions Group to form Data Decisions Group last spring, I suddenly had hundreds and hundreds of additional data points available on my survey respondents, in what felt like the blink of an eye. It’s like I’m sitting down for a gourmet meal at our dining room table, without having set foot in the kitchen. There’s a substantial amount of hard work going on behind the scenes to make it possible, all thanks to my remarkable colleagues. But I get to just sit down and dig in.

"58% of companies plan to increase their integration of market research data with non-traditional data sources."

Not surprisingly, the combination of news sources with primary research data is expected to grow significantly this year. According to the latest GRIT Report, 58% of companies plan to increase their integration of market research data with non-traditional data sources in 2017. As I sit at my desk and read figures like these, I can’t help but be excited. Although there have been many innovations at my company over the years, being on the forefront of this industry trend is probably one of the “hippest” I’ve ever been! Since last spring, there have been many examples of how integrated data has transformed the way Data Decisions Group has approached research projects with our clients. Here’s one story.

Acting Like a Kid in a Candy Store

Last fall, we began working with a CPG client who wanted a fresh look at the consumer who purchased in their specific candy category. Who are they? What drives their decisions? How can they create trial? Our research provided a complete inventory of their market along with customer segmentation. It just so happens, this is one of my favorite types of research. And who doesn’t love to talk about candy? I’ve hit the jackpot with this project! So for months, my head has been buried in candy, figuratively. I guess literally too, since I’ve indulged in my fair share of “taste tests” while sitting at my desk. All in the name of research!

Although I wanted to hit the ground running and begin questionnaire design last fall, I had to remember “first things first.” This meant jumping on a plane and going to observe focus groups. I can’t express just how critical this step was. In these groups, we learned the general perceptions and attitudes that we would later explore in our survey questionnaire. We cataloged the candy products they buy, the occasions they consume them, where they buy them, and the list goes on.

"For the qualitative research, it was critical that we fully understood the candy consumer’s vocabulary so we could word the quantitative questionnaire appropriately."

For the qualitative research, it was critical that we fully understood the candy consumer’s vocabulary so we could word the quantitative questionnaire appropriately. One of the many highlights of the focus group was hearing participants’ answers to an “outside the [candy] box” question – “If X brand of candy were a person at a party, describe who they would be.” The answers were fascinating. Let’s just say, everyone left the focus groups satisfied, including the participants with their financial compensation in one hand, and some candy in the other. I had a wealth of information, all captured in pen on paper. I guess I’m a little old school.  

Sweetening the Study with Consumer Data Appends

After reviewing the results of the focus group, we were ready for the survey design. The questionnaire had many topics that needed covering…awareness, usage, key drivers, barriers, media consumption, perceptions, attitudes, and demographics. This was certainly going to be a long survey for respondents. These types of studies always are. But what made this one different from many in the past was that we didn’t have to fully rely on the questionnaire to provide all the insights. We were going to have access to hundreds and hundreds of consumer data points from our DecisionPointsTM database.

"We were going to have access to hundreds and hundreds of consumer data points."

The survey went into the field, where it remained for one month while we collected thousands of responses from candy consumers. We needed that many responses in order to analyze our data by various subgroups. After patiently waiting to hit our quotas, the study finally closed and the data was ready to analyze. I was like a kid in a candy store. We began looking at the survey results for the candy category overall. Then, we analyzed the survey results by brand purchased (our client and their key competitors), geography, age, purchase frequency, as well as the customer segments that were created through a hierarchical and k-means cluster analysis. A very clear picture emerged of who our client’s primary and secondary segments should be. However, there was still something sweet left to unwrap.

Unlocking Some Tasty Insights from the Additional Data

We then explored hundreds of data points from the DecisionPointsTM database to discover even more about our client’s segments. To capture all this data in a survey format would have taken respondents hours upon hours. It would have been impossible. But now, with a few clicks here and there to merge my survey and DecisionPointsTM data files, we could understand so much more about the target segments. We had access to their nutrition and dietary behaviors, how they dine, shopping behaviors, financial status, their lifestyle, and so much more. The possibilities of what we could learn felt endless.

"The possibilities of what we could learn felt endless."

Here is a very small taste of the consumer data insights that I can share with you:

  • Through DecisionPointsTM data alone, we know their primary target has a very high likelihood to use a certain major retailer’s savings app.
  • These consumers tend to aggressively search for sales and coupons. They seek price incentives and will actually go to multiple retailers to execute their shopping list.
  • They frequently visit coffee shops, watch movies online, and read entertainment magazines.

While some findings are just “nice to know,” a great deal of them have actual marketing implications for our client. In fact, they were blown away by the additional insights that this new data source uncovered! I can’t wait to watch what unfolds as our client puts this research to good use.

It just doesn’t get any sweeter than that.

Want to learn more? Request our NEW opportunity assessment for combining our consumer data with your market research.*

Opportunity Assessment - Improve Your Market Research with Consumer Data

During your complimentary opportunity assessment, our experts review ten key areas where you can quickly achieve some big improvements. We include tips, ideas and best practices to get you moving in the right direction.

Regardless of your industry, the types of research studies you conduct, or the additional data available to you, you too can unlock many new opportunities to improve your market research.  Click below to request your complimentary assessment today.

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Kara Davis
Kara Davis
Kara Davis

Kara Kennedy Davis is the Manager of Marketing Science for Data Decisions Group. She joined the company in 2004 as part of the sales team, and quickly transitioned into a project management role in 2006. In 2012, she joined the Marketing Science department where she designs strategic research studies and uses advanced analytics to improve clients' marketing results.

Kara graduated Summa Cum Laude from Appalachian State University in 2003 with a B.S. in Advertising and a minor in Sociology. She received certification from the University of Georgia for Principles of Market Research, and has attended training seminars with Burke and CASRO where she further developed her skills in marketing research. She served four terms on the Atlanta Southeast Chapter of the Market Research Association.