The added value of social media analysis within U&A research
Before people used social media to highlight great moments in their life, to demonstrate their special connection with certain products, to unravel their opinions or to showcase their creative DIY outbursts; as market researchers we just ‘simply’ had to ask them about all of it.
However, ‘simply’ questioning consumers how they use different products & brands, what they create with them, how they make them feel, who else uses them, is actually not so simple. It requires a huge involvement of the respondents participating in these kind of ‘Usage & Attitude Studies’. Even though the business of market research hasn’t been on hold. Nowadays, participants can complete U&A studies whenever & wherever. But no matter how many flashy icons, participant friendly layouts or mobile diary apps we create, there is still a level of experience which we are missing. A quantitative U&A study will only give you the big picture; the main ways of how people are using different products. Cutting it short most products within e.g. the dairy industry are used alone, at home, without adding anything. Integrating an additional qualitative angle with in depth-interviews or picture/video sharing can give us a look behind the scenes; but requires quite a lot of resources (budget & time) and investments from participants to make robust conclusions which in turn can impact business decisions. Additionally, running these big quantitative U&A studies are mostly only a momentary snapshot. In real life, usage of & attitude towards products & brands fluctuates over time and might be better captured in another way.
And yet, there is a world of qualitative U&A data out there, right at our fingertips. Like never before, consumers are creating this much data and information themselves. 95 million videos and pictures are shared on Instagram everyday (Spout Data, 2018). Instagram has almost a billion active monthly users creating all kinds of content. Since consumers are so eager to track, post, like & share; we are getting a whole new view on how different products are used. Next to tracking attitudes towards brands & products or looking at 6 W’s (Who, Where, When, What, Why & hoW) within traditional U&A studies; analysing social media posts or getting access to data from food tracking apps gives us insights on different levels.
What did we learn?
First of all, we get a better understanding of the real excitement and unfiltered reactions a brand or products creates. Additionally, we get an idea on how to initiate an authentic consumer connection. Finally, we can experience new & fun ways in which consumers are using products. These in-depth insights can impact multiple business decisions; whether it is about online & offline communication, content creation, influencer engagement, ownable brand assets & positioning or filling the idea funnel for product development.
This type of research shows us qualitative research and big data can go hand in hand. Depending on what the goals of the research are and keeping in mind some implications, it is a perfect tool to identify new U&A in a budget friendly and time efficient way.Suzanne Mulier, Alpro