Lightspeed Blog

Research techniques for planning and implementing the marketing mix

Posted by Lightspeed Research on Jul 25, 2018

This is the third in a series of blog posts on research uses and techniques. This blog focuses on planning and implementing the marketing mix via the 4 P’s of marketing—product, price, place, and promotion.

Product

Many marketing research projects focus on some aspect of developing and evaluating products.

  • Product research often starts with product ideation in order to generate ideas for further development. This is most likely to involve reviewing past research, brainstorming within the client organization, and qualitative research with consumers. Qualitative research could include focus groups, in depth interviews, or even ethnographic research.
  • Once we have ideas we need to narrow the options down, which often requires concept screening or testing. Concept screening generally happens early in the process with a less developed product idea while concept testing is looking at fully developed concepts. The screening helps narrow the focus for the testing. In some cases, if the concept is not meeting success criteria then concept optimization may be done to try to improve the concept.
  • Next is development of the product and product testing. Product testing can include or not include a concept phase. With a concept and use test, consumers judge how well the product fits with the concept. Product testing without a concept phase is often called in-home use testing (I-HUT).
  • Several special cases of product research are product restaging, brand positioning and repositioning, line extension, and line optimization research. Restaging a product involves changing something with an existing product, such as changing to a cost-savings formulation. Brand positioning/repositioning means changing how an existing product is marketed or seen. A line extension is a new option within the current line-up of an existing brand, such as a new flavor or scent. Line optimization involves deciding which specific SKUs or variants to offer.
  • As part of product development, there may also be a need to do name and package testing.
  • In some cases brand awareness and brand equity research might help in product development.
  • A test market is where a product is actually placed in stores in a market with supporting marketing messaging. This can be quite expensive and also gives a head’s up to competitors.
  • Finally, a volume forecast will predict how much product is expected to sell. There are companies who specialize in volume forecasting because it takes experience and a database to accurately make predictions.

Pricing

Pricing research can be challenging because consumers simply don’t know what they pay for products, so when asked about pricing they may be guessing.

  • Respondents can be asked direct pricing questions. This could involve asking them what they are willing to pay for something or asking purchase intent at different price points.
  • Van Westendorp determines a range of acceptable prices as well as an optimum price point for a product. The range runs from a price below which doubts are raised about the quality of the product, to a price above which the product is seen as too expensive to consider.
  • Pricing is often tied to perceived value and quality, so research may focus on measuring these as well as on the perceptions of pricing.
  • Choice modeling is often used when features other than just price need to be varied or when comparing with competitors. The goal is to determine the best or optimal feature combination(s). It is a statistical technique that indirectly assesses the value or utility a respondent places on varying levels of multiple product features.

Place

Place is about where the consumer buys the product.

  • Research on place often involves basic shopper research to understand shopping habits, store image/perceptions, etc.
  • Rather than focus on specific stores, channel research looks at broader groupings of stores such as grocery, drug, club, mass merchandiser, etc.
  • Might also do research in-store to understand consumer’s reactions to displays, promotions, packaging, etc.
  • With mystery shopping, an evaluator acts as a customer to assess customer service.

Promotion

Promotion is about persuading consumers to buy. When people hear promotion they often think of advertising, but it also includes premiums, coupons, sampling, discounts, public relations, sales promotions, etc.

  • Copy/advertising testing is often used to evaluate and pick the best advertising.
  • Once adverting is launched, awareness, recall and effectiveness may be measured. Understanding effectiveness may involve a pre-post test to see how a promotion changed perceptions. A pre-test is conducted prior to the launch of the promotion and then a post-test is done shortly after the launch.
  • Often need to decide how to spend promotional money and choose between different marketing components. Marketing mix modeling can help make these decisions.
  • Claim substantiation is needed whenever a specific claim is made in advertising in order to substantiate it. For example, can a company claim that their brand is seen as most heart healthy?

This three part blog series started with the framework below. Next time you do a research project think about where it falls in the framework and the best research technique to use to address the business questions.

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