Sponsored feature

Greater Insight: Strength in depth

Ronnie McBryde of Mintel
Ronnie McBryde of Mintel

Broad samples may be more costly and time-consuming for researchers, but the results can bring a depth of insight that cheaper, more two-dimensional online surveys cannot come close to matching.

Forget one-trick ponies; better understanding of consumers and markets is gained from analysis using as broad a range of sources as is feasible.

In last year's Greater Insight supplement, a few of the articles were - understandably - on cost-effective research for budget-savvy research managers.

Of course, we all want to cut costs. Finance departments would like us to think that everything is on Google these days. Focus-group researchers might argue that a couple of groups in Scunthorpe and Doncaster will provide better understanding of the Great British Public. Trend research companies argue along the same lines. However, it's online quantitative research that often promises most when it comes to cost-saving.

Now, don't get me wrong. Much of Mintel's research budget is spent with a wide variety of online research suppliers. Online is neither the starting nor finishing point, however; it's one tool among many to help better understand consumers.

'Half the time. Half the price. Twice the number of questions,' promise many suppliers. Yet, like software development, where the reality is often 'Half the functionality. Twice the time. Twice the cost', gaining greater insight is a bit more complicated than simply asking more questions online.

It is not sexy to talk about 'nat rep': influencers, advocates, thought leaders - they're sexy. When trying to understand all consumers and potential consumers in the marketplace, however, a more representative sample of the population is needed. While online quant research may be 40% cheaper than face-to-face, the issue is that almost 30% of the UK population is still offline.

In market segments where consumers are predominantly young, old, rich or poor, online quant research often struggles. Ironically, young people, who are most willing and best able to complete online or mobile surveys, are the most heavily restricted from a legal perspective. Consent requirements for under-16s complicate online and mobile surveys among this group.

The term 'silver surfers' has been part of the English language for 15 years, but they remain the minority among the over-65s (just 42% in January 2010). The interesting question is why they are not online - but that's not a question for an online survey.

Everybody wants to know more about wealth management and luxury goods. Unfortunately, people who spend money on these services and products need greater persuasion than Amazon vouchers to while away their spare time filling in online questionnaires.

In the leisure sector, a high proportion of the poor's discretionary expenditure is spent on the on-trade drinks sector (worth nearly £30bn), gambling (upwards of £8bn) and domestic tourism (£10bn). Unfortunately, less than 40% of socio-economic group E had access to broadband in 2009.

In a similar vein, niche or irregularly bought products demand bigger sample sizes. Farewell cost savings. Most Mintel reports on the travel industry, technology and housewares require a sample size of 2000 to have any chance of statistically valid research output.

Should we ask the question of who actually spends big chunks of their day filling in online questionnaires? Websites such as Moneysavingexpert.com and most national newspapers regularly recommend questionnaire completion as a method of earning extra cash if money is tight, but are these frugal respondents truly representative of the Great British Public?

And, as one in 10 of the British population was not born in the UK, can we be sure that this 10% - often non-native English speakers - are being properly represented?

This brings me back to the statement 'analysis using as broad a range of sources as is feasible'. Feasible! We need to balance time to carry out research, time to analyse results, management time, research costs, accessibility of the target market, production values, production deadlines, IT and legal constraints, frequency of market changes, importance of timeliness, market opportunity, opportunity cost, and appropriateness and consistency of methodologies.

Don't believe anyone arguing for a single solution to help you understand your consumer. Trade interviews, store checks, trend research, product innovation analysis, underlying perceptions of advertising and brands, the databases of other organisations, (eg TGI) and online focus groups all have a role to play.

Finally, the most important ingredient of all is time to assimilate and think.

Ronnie McBryde is director of research at Mintel. Contact Mintel at insight@mintel.com


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message