Target: It is time research was more than a 'one night stand'

Target: It is time research was more than a 'one night stand'
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Retailers need to move research beyond the traditional “one night stand” approach and push it to become another touch point for branding Target’s customer insights manager has argued.

Research must be considered as a brand touch point and as a two-way relationship Fiona Buchanan, customer insights manager Target Australia, said at the ecommerce Conference & Expo Melbourne.

“Traditional research, I feel, is like a one night stand. You get the customer and you have them for a certain amount of time and you have to get as much information from them as you can,” Buchanan said.

“‘When where you born, how old are you, where do you live and what do you think of this’ and 50 other questions. Then ‘Ok, great, off you go with the rest of your life. I am never going to see you again’.”

Instead of this, Buchanan believes businesses should view research respondents as their “guests” and figure out ways gather information while simultaneously reinforcing the brand message.

Target has done this with its branded community Target Talks. The community consists of around 6,000 people who have joined on the premise that they are going to help make Target better.

Buchanan says the platform has been “hugely successful” thanks to the brand’s heritage and “strong customer base who seem to forgive us for anything”.

Turning unstructured information into structured data is a “really exciting space” that is beginning to become competitive, according to Buchannan.

From a customer point of view it is more natural to provide unstructured feedback on their experiences rather than a 0 to 10 scale.

“The onus then is on the research providers to make sense of that data in a way that is really meaningful.” The process is moving beyond counting words and matching them with another and allowing spontaneous themes that are different from the week before to emerge.

“It is really taking that unstructured, verbatim feedback and coding it and putting it into a list that is relevant to your business and turning it into structured data.”

Modern retail research techniques include passive, active and interactive aspects. Passive includes tracking a consumers phone, which Buchannan said can unearth information such as the time their alarm goes off in the morning and how many photos they have. Being completely transparent about exactly what information is being gathered and how it is being used is integral here.

Active includes more traditional research techniques such as surveys while interactive includes methods such as branded communities.

Areas Target is looking to push into include geo-fencing or using a consumer’s location to push them  questions that are relevant to their current location, mobile diaries and more tracking.

Buchanan said research today involved five main pillars: convenience, relevance, independence, experience and transparency.

Convenience – it should be easy for them to take part.

Relevance – it needs to make sense. If you are going to ask a consumer about a new in-store execution ask them about it while they are, not once they have returned home.

Independence – let them choose the device they wish to complete the research on.

Experience – aim to make it fun and engaging

Transparency – they need to know what you are doing. “Even feeding back some of the information that you are learning them is really valuable.”

Buchanan ended her presentation with the following directive: “Research must adapt to keep with consumer behaviour…always looking at what they are doing, how they are moving forward and how you can match that.”

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