Knowledge through research

Do companies need to be intelligently informed of their consumers, competitors, industry conditions as well as social influence variables to stay on top of their game?


The European business landscape today is becoming highly competitive with the increasing presence of private equity investors within the market, massive shift of production towards developing countries as a result of cheap labour costs, inclusion of Poland, Romania and Bulgaria within the European Community and Russia’s increasing demand for consumer goods, both fast moving and consumer durables.

To ensure their competitive presence within the market, companies in Europe need to be more receptive to their customers’ needs versus their competitors as well as responsive to any predictive social influence variables that may affect their consumer’s re-purchase intentions and loyalty. As a result more and more companies are turning to market research as a means of helping them find the necessary answers they need to make better informed decisions.

According to ESOMAR’s Global Market Research 2007 Report, Europe recorded a stable growth of 5 percent and 2.8 percent after inflation in global market research turnover for 2006. ESOMAR’s Pricing Study 2007 also indicated that the demand for market research is growing so fast that it currently outweighs supply, with some market research companies reporting that they actually had to place some clients on waiting lists because of that lack of supply.

Integrated and innovative use of information results in better informed decisions
Synovate’s CEO for Global Client Relationships and Northern Europe, Peter Huijboom, believes that market research companies today play a more significant role in helping businesses make better strategic decisions. Market research in the past was more about providing data to clients as a final ‘check-and-balance,’ affirming their pre-concluded business strategies and decisions.

Today market research is as alive, integrated and innovative as businesses wants it to be
As Peter puts it; “It’s about providing companies information that can be integrated with their own existing data. From this companies have a more holistic view of their current business disposition. It is also about giving companies intelligent and unique insights into their customers and markets. Such ‘knowledge’ not only empowers companies to make intelligent business decisions but also to stay on top of their game through cutting-edge thought leadership.”

“A client of ours, an international marketer of consumer goods, was looking for ways of screening the concepts of their products during the early stages of development. By offering the client a customised concept development programme, combined with a screening concept programme, it allowed him to successfully identify winning concepts that warranted continued development and enabled him to conduct necessary situational analysis of the various concepts before additional resources were allocated. The cost-effectiveness of the programme provided the client both the opportunity to re-test high potential concepts for greater refinement and greater insights into its development cycles.”

“A common example facing companies is the need to retain their “potentially-loyal” customers. Retention and loyalty are important key drivers for companies but to what extend can these companies really measure whether or not a particular consumer is ‘potentially-loyal’ or not. Our Loyalty suite of tools allow our clients to effectively measure every aspect of the customer relationship, taking into account his likes/dislikes, rational as well as emotion influences that can affect his loyalty to a brand/product. This provides clients an integrated and multidimensional view concerning the loyalty of that consumer. Clients can then use this information to formulate more effective product proposition and marketing initiatives.”

Improve internal facets of companies’ businesses
Peter also cited its ViewsCast real time survey solutions that not only help clients monitor their customers entire touch points but also provide analysis that translates those findings into actionable insights for the clients.

“Other market research companies usually conduct customer satisfaction surveys using a relatively small sample size. On top of that the surveys are usually conducted outbound via the telephone or online, which makes the process not only expensive but more importantly, creating a longer lead time between the transaction and data captured.”4414 3

“On the contrary, ViewsCast is an automated IVR (interactive voice response) system that can be linked to the client’s own call centre to monitor the feedback. Other than being an accurate and relatively inexpensive system of measuring customer satisfaction, it also offers clients almost real time information of their customers’ satisfaction or dissatisfaction. This then allows them to react immediately to those latter responses, thereby improving the overall quality of their customer service. The unique aspect of ViewsCast is that it can handle various data collection channels simultaneously via a three channel surveying portal that seamlessly integrates technological and analytical capabilities into one powerful web-portal for the clients.”

UPC, the largest cable company in Europe, is one of the many clients that use the ViewsCast solution to improve its customer satisfaction levels while optimizing its call centres. By using ViewsCast, UPC not only managed to increase its call centre efficiency tremendously by achieving a high level of customer satisfaction across all touch points in several markets but also reduced its call centre costs dramatically. UPC was awarded the National Contact Centre Award for 2006 and 2007 as a result of its high quality call centres.

Identify barriers that directly impact companies’ sales volume
Most research companies assess what drives a brand by looking at the brand equity (value of a brand in the eyes of the consumer). This in reality does not provide companies with a complete picture of what drives their brands, and how their brands actually drive sales. Synovate has created the Brand Value Creator, a system that accurately identifies barriers that directly impact companies’ sales volume. This innovative tool was created by Dr. Jannie Hofmeyr, a thought leading expert in the field of market research.

“The Brand Value Creator is truly a ground-breaking tool that can help clients define the effect their brand equity has on their sales volume. This makes brand equity more tangible and provides clients with greater insight into their brands. With this insight, clients can then make the right business decisions regarding their brands.”

Market research and companies going forward
Companies today know the importance of intelligent information and how it can help them stay on top of their game. However as companies expand and consolidate, so comes with it the need to operate in a cost effective manner while producing high quality products and services.

On the one hand companies do acknowledge that they prefer to outsource market research solutions and integrate it as part of their internal operational processes since it does provide them the intelligent information they need to make better informed decisions but on the other hand the reality is that they want it as cheap and fast as possible, with the quickest turn-around time.

Peter’s comment to that was; “We are very aware of this development and are confident that we have adapted and are continuing to adapt to it successfully. Being as international, integrated and innovative as we are, we are constantly going a step further than our competitors by advancing our market research solutions, processes and platforms while maintaining maximum operational excellence for our clients”.