I’ve been talking about the steps you should take to develop a communication plan for your customer retention program. In my last article I delved into step one, analyzing current customer behavior. As part of that exercise you can also complete a Consumer Buying Behavior Study.
What is a Consumer Buying Behavior Study?
A Consumer Buying Behavior Study allows you to get a more well-rounded picture of what else is happening in your target audience’s lives that is causing them to want to buy. This type of survey goes way beyond demographics to also look at things like life style, life stage and more. For example, being a 45-year-old college-educated male is not going to cause you to be in the market for a car. But being a 45-year-old college-educated male who is expecting his third child just might.
How does this differ from a typical post-purchase survey?
Many companies send out customer satisfaction and product surveys after a purchase is made. Why did you purchase a Toyota? What other cars did you consider? Were you satisfied with the dealership experience? Etc.
This is all very useful information. However, it does not provide information about why the customer was in the market at all. A Consumer Buying Behavior Study differs from the typical post-purchase survey because it delves into the “why” behind the purchase.
Most of the time companies only survey their customers once they have made the decision to get into the market. Why did you buy this versus something else? But if the person had not gotten to the point of making a decision to buy something at all, the fact that your products’ seats are so comfortable really wouldn’t matter to them.
What triggered the desire to get into the market to make a purchase?
There’s always something that triggers or prompts a person to decide to make a purchase, and this trigger is often something else that is happening in the person’s life.
For example, in my last article I mentioned that I am currently pregnant with my second child and in the market for a new, larger car. If car dealers had reached out to me six months ago I would not have been interested; my car was fine. But then something happened in my life – I got pregnant – and everything changed. Suddenly my car no longer meets my anticipated needs. My desire to make a purchase has been triggered.
If you have a product or service to sell you want to know what it will take to get someone to make the decision to try your product, to even consider getting into the market.
I’ve always said I’d never go to Wal-Mart, that I’m not a Wal-Mart shopper. Then they put one in across the street from where I live and now I shop there all the time. If someone had surveyed me last year the Q & A might have gone something like this: Would you shop at Wal-Mart? No. Have you ever been to a Wal-Mart? Yes. What prompted you to go into that Wal-Mart then? It was across the street. What would make you go back to Wal-Mart now? It would have to be ridiculously convenient. These answers would have shown Wal-Mart exactly what it would take to get me to consider shopping at their store.
Who should you survey?
To get this type of data you can survey your existing customers as well as others who match your customers’ demographics. For example, Toyota could conduct a Consumer Buying Behavior Study aimed at people who purchased a Toyota in the past six months. They could ask questions like: What prompted you to buy? Who was a part of the purchase decision? What did you own previously? What made you consider purchasing our brand? And more.
Then, to get beyond the limitations of their own customer pool, Toyota could also do a panel study of others in a particular demographic (or even in the general population). In this case Toyota could ask questions like: When did you purchase your current vehicle? What would prompt you to get into the market to buy a new vehicle? What would motivate you to take a test drive? If you’re not in the market, why not? After all, maybe the answer is that the person likes to run their car into the ground. In this case, the dealer will know who not to target!
What can you do with this data?
In developing a communication plan for a customer retention program the first step is to analyze current customer behavior, and the second step is to develop customer profiles and personas. A Consumer Buying Behavior Study can help give you a broader pool of information with which to create those profiles and personas, making them more accurate, useful and actionable for you.
Need help designing and implementing a Consumer Buying Behavior Study? Give us a call. As your market research specialists, we’re here for you.