To many people, audience research can seem vague and expensive with no clear promise of results. This seems crazy to those of us in the industry who know how to find insights. We’ve learned to trust that there’s much information below the surface that’s accessible and there for the taking. These insights become the most valuable industry intel there can possibly be. It shows us how to speak on the customer’s terms.
Why does it seem vague, with no promise of results? Because you can’t see the insights from the starting position. You have to trust that they’re there. But good, strategic ad schools, like the University of Oregon (credit to Profs Deb Morrison, Kim Sheehan, Dave Koranda, among others) teach students to look for those insights. Students learn to develop a sniffer for audience insights, sort of like the guys with the metal detectors on the beach, only without the pulled-up brown socks.
Why does it seem expensive? Because it doesn’t pay off the next day; it’s an investment. But just like with everything, you don’t buy it because it’s cheap. You buy it because it’s valuable.
So when should you look for audience insights? Probably when you’re working on a high-value offering. So your brand would probably be the biggest beneficiary, since your brand creates the trust-infrastructure for all your products and services.
But the biggest benefit of good research (the right balance between qualitative and quantitative research) is that it separates you from your competition, because while they’re talking about how great they are (e.g. “in business since 1979”) , you’re talking to consumers on their terms, helping them understand the product in reference to their lives.
And guess who’s gonna win that battle nine out of ten times.