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Many organizations release products based on what customers think or how they act. These studies are parts of customer analysis, and they usually are broken down into three main methods. Between focus groups, customer satisfaction measurement and field tests, an organization can gain a better understanding of what customers are seeking. These methods help shape a wide range of commercial products, from television shows to soda flavors.
One of the most common types of customer analysis is the focus group. A focus group is a specially chosen group of consumers, usually representing a specific demographic, who are presented with a product and asked to discuss it. This is a valuable marketing and sociology tool for companies because reactions are able to be measured immediately, and the group's discussions can be taped and reviewed. Organizations frequently use these meetings to gauge the potential success or failure of a product.
One example of an industry that relies heavily on focus groups for customer analysis is the motion picture industry. Frequently, movies are shown to test audiences before the actual release. After watching the film, viewers are asked a series of questions about what they liked and did not like about the picture. Based on these results, a movie company can choose to reedit a film, decide where to release it and even choose how much of a marketing budget to assign the film based on its potential for ticket sales.
Customer satisfaction measurement is another popular form of customer analysis. This method is practiced most often by companies that offer physical products. Like a focus group, it aims to record reactions after a product has been used. Instead of bringing in a target market for testing, however, the users are sought out for their opinions after they purchase the product. This can be done through the mail, but is more commonly done through a phone call or an email survey.
An example of this customer survey technique is calling customers who purchased a product from a company's website. The survey can ask questions about satisfaction and any recommendations that the customer has to improve the product or the company's customer service or even its website. This accomplishes two feats by simultaneously getting customer feedback and improving customer loyalty by showing the buyer how important his or her opinion is to the company.
A third customer analysis technique is field testing. This involves going to places where an ideal audience is and measuring customer reactions to a product. This is a little like focus groups except that the audience is completely random. An example of this is a soda company offering free samples to shoppers at a grocery store and recording their reactions in order to finalize the flavor content.
@GreenWeaver - I love when stores offer free samples. It makes shopping more fun. I also think that companies that perform a customer segmentation analysis can provide better product offerings to its customers because they are focusing on the needs of a various segments of their customer base.
For example, a lot of grocery stores are offering rewards programs in which they compile the customer’s personal data as well as spending habits into a database in order to better serve their customers. They will send targeted coupons and free offers to the customers based on this data.
They can also determine which new products that store should carry and which products should be discounted. This is a great way
for the companies to learn about their customer base without asking a customer to fill out a survey because most people dislike surveys and consider it junk mail.
This way you will get most of the customers to respond right away. One store in particular will not give the discounted prices unless the customer fills out a rewards application. The store promises additional coupons and promotions in exchange for this one time set up.
I shop at grocery store that does this and not only do they send me coupons in the mail, but I also receive coupons on the back of my receipt for products that I normally purchase. These incentives can really make grocery shopping a little more fun and it can also tell the grocery store which are their best customers.
@Sunny27 - Good for you. I usually dread shopping for a new car. I just wanted to say that I remember years ago when a certain soft drink company was launching a new flavor.
My friend’s aunt worked for a marketing company that was offering demonstrations of the new flavor for this soft drink company throughout various supermarkets. She asked if I wanted to go to a few supermarkets to sample the soft drink and I agreed to do it.
It was a cherry version of the drink and many people did not like it at first but there was a lot of initial interest. Some people said that the drink tasted like medicine and at the time I have to agree.
The flavors in many of these soft drinks have come a long way and that is probably due to the continuous customer needs analysis and improved marketing strategies.
@BrickBack - I think that focus groups do sound like a lot of fun. They are definitely more fun than receiving a customer survey.
I usually ignore customer surveys because they are so tedious. The only time that I actually take the time to fill one out is when I have a great experience shopping for a car.
Most dealerships really want their customers filling out these customer value analysis surveys so that the individual dealership can be recognized.
My last car buying experience was so fantastic that I did not mind filling out the survey because I wanted them to get recognition for treating me so well. It is really rare when you find a dealership like this and I made sure that they knew it on the survey.
A customer market analysis using a focus group can give the company immediate feedback on their product and how it compares to others.
I was once asked to be a part of a focus group and it was really fun. I was among a panel of seven other people and we sat in a conference room while they asked us questions about a particular retailer.
They also asked us about the retailer’s competitors and asked us to explain our opinions about the customer service levels of the retailer and compare that to its competitors.
They also briefly touched on the product assortment of the various stores and asked us the likelihood of shopping in either of the
stores. The focus of the study was more of a customer service analysis which was designed to improve the customer service offered at the primary retailer that the focus group was mainly targeting.
It was an interesting experience and this retail chain significantly improved its customer service as well as its merchandise assortment.
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