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Know Your Audience: Why Research Is Important for Marketing Professionals

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: October 3, 2017
Photo credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Branding mistakes can cause huge problems for marketers. Carefully structured, actionable market research is essential to success. Renee Fraser, Ph.D., CEO of Fraser Communications, shares her insights for smart decisions and great results.

Most of us know that companies conduct a ton of market research before releasing a new product these days. With so many brand choices available to us, sellers in all categories know they have to have a strong understanding of the consumers' wants and needs if they're going to have a chance at success. The message has to be powerful so that we instantly recognize the brand when we see it on the store shelf.

Successful companies rely on marketing research to help them understand their markets. Smaller companies may not be able to conduct their own research, but they can still access countless past studies to inform them about what people really want. Most companies that have the resources also conduct their own research before every product launch. Every simple advertising message we're exposed to is the result of hours of research into consumer expectations and desires.

Focus the message

Research studies have shown that people in today's busy world have short attention spans. We're suffering from information overload, and unless a product presents a powerful and simple message, we quickly move on. It's a real challenge for marketing professionals to get their message across in such an environment.

If you've ever watched a commercial on TV and scratched your head, wondering what the message really was, you're not alone. There's also a good chance you had no idea what product it was selling or even who was selling it. This is the type of ad campaign that good marketing teams try to avoid.

If the company that made that commercial had paid attention to available marketing research, it would have chosen a simple and focused message. It's important to make the features and benefits of a product clear and to make the message powerful so that the consumer remembers it. If a company can do that, it will likely benefit from better brand recognition and a healthier bottom line.

People do judge by the cover

The saying "don't judge a book by its cover" may have merit, but it doesn't apply to most consumer products. In our brand-driven world, how a company packages its offerings has a direct influence on sales. We may not think we purchase an item on the store shelf because it has nice packaging, but research suggests otherwise.

In many product categories, there isn't a lot to differentiate one choice from another. Frozen vegetables are a good example. For the most part, all brands are very similar. For a company to stand out in this type of industry, it has to have strong brand recognition.

In the '80s and '90s, Green Giant commercials were all over TV. They always depicted a fun-loving green giant that was the picture of health. The ads created strong brand recognition and made Green Giant frozen vegetables the choice of many consumers. Over the years, they've changed the image of the Green Giant several times as a result of research, and it's proven very effective.

Avoid branding mistakes

In school, marketing students learn all about companies that failed or stumbled because they overstretched themselves. In most cases, this was because they didn't conduct enough research before branching out.

When the Coors Brewing Company decided to market Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water, it was a strategic mistake. Consumers avoided the product because they couldn't buy into the idea that a beer company was marketing a healthy sparkling water product. It didn't help that the Coors logo was prominent on the bottles. A bit of research into what consumers would think about Coors-branded water would probably have saved the company a lot of money. It might have had more success if it had avoided use of its iconic brand name on its sparkling water product line, but we'll never know.

History is littered with examples of spectacular failures because a brand overextended itself as Coors did. Companies that have successfully branched out into other areas have typically created an entirely new brand sold by a subsidiary. Most available research suggests that this is the better strategy, but it can still be a risky venture.

Other research findings

Marketing research clearly can shed light on many different things and help make advertising more effective. Some studies have shown that the color of a product can affect its sales, while other research has proven that consumers love a good deal. There are many different ways that marketers can use research to bolster the sales of a product if they choose to follow it.

Marketing failures happen all the time, and they're often because of inadequate research or because no research was conducted at all. Good research is essential for any effective marketing campaign.


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