Consumer research is a systematic investigation into consumer behavior, needs and perceptions. The following are common types of consumer research.
Secondary ResearchSecondary research is an analysis of existing knowledge in an area from previous studies. This is usually a starting point for primary research that develops unique knowledge.
InterviewsInterviewing consumers using techniques such as ladder interviews or focus groups.
SurveysSurveys can be used to measure consumer opinions but this doesn't always map to consumer behavior or needs.
Natural ExperimentA natural experiment is a situation that is beyond the control of researchers that resembles an experiment. For example, a shortage of a good that causes a price increase as a natural experiment for consumer price sensitivity and behavior in seeking substitutes for a particular good.
Exploratory ResearchResearch that creates questions as opposed to answers. For example, consumer interviews that use consumer ideas to propose theories that are untested. This may have value as a direction for future research.
Constructive ResearchConstructive research designs a solution to a problem and tests it. For example, an experiment that commits to customers that data used to improve advertising is deleted within 7 days to test how this impacts perceptions of privacy.
Field ExperimentsObserving consumer behavior using a controlled or partially controlled experiment in the field. For example, testing consumer reactions to an unfriendly security message in a retail environment that warns customers they are being monitored. This may be measured in terms of customer surveys conducted on exit with similar stores being used as controls.
NotesThe term consumer research is used for general research that is broadly applicable to economics, design and marketing. The term customer research is used for more specific evaluations in support of an industry, company, brand or marketing initiative. Another difference between these two terms is that customer research may look at business customers as opposed to consumers.
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