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Workshop on Consumer Behavior Methods Annual Meeting of the ASA, San Francisco, CA, August 16, 2004 by Dr. Leora Lawton, Principal TechSociety Research Berkeley, CA  2004 Leora E. Lawton. TechSociety Research. Introduction to Consumer Behavior Research. There’s good research and bad research.

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Workshop on Consumer Behavior MethodsAnnual Meeting of the ASA, San Francisco, CA, August 16, 2004byDr. Leora Lawton, PrincipalTechSociety ResearchBerkeley, CA 2004 Leora E. Lawton

TechSociety Research

introduction to consumer behavior research

Introduction to Consumer Behavior Research

There’s good research and bad research.

As a consumer, you want to have good products, services.

Businesses give people jobs, businesses pay taxes that support public services, like faculty salaries.

Few sociologists go into this field, but they have most of the requisite technical skills, which is often not the case of psychologists and MBAs.

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responsibilities of the consumer behavior researcher

Responsibilities of the Consumer Behavior Researcher

Research Design: Possibly the most important thing we do.

Data Tabulations: Simple crosstab/bivariate/banner reports where the data is simply calculated into simple statistics but no interpretation

Interpretative narrative: The basic frequencies plus maybe one or two


Full analytic report: (includes bivariate and perhaps multivariate analyses, with charts, tables, key findings (simple results) and also the interpretation of the results.

Executive summaries: An Executive Summary is the ’Cliff notes' of a report but also includes the full recommendations/implications section

On-site presentations of results: Seminar-style bring out the full value of the deliverable and build the client relationship.

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Types of Consumer Research
  • We categorize consumer research objectives by the following study types:

Customer satisfaction and its kind

Customer retention

Product concept tests



Segmentation and other descriptives

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Customer Satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction measures satisfaction with products, services, purchase experience, customersupport interactions, partners

Evaluating Sales Win-Loss patterns is a subset – that is, evaluating prospect satisfaction with the sales process.

Customer Satisfaction when done in enterprise contracts typically consist one or more of the following characteristics: a benchmarking program, a tracking study, and a consultative relationship.

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Product Development

Purpose: Improve or introduce products and services; Prioritize feature developmentfor product teams.

Not likely to be an enterprise study but could be sold in apackage. While the structure of the study is fairly standard, the details are always unique.

Hence, product concept tests are a good way to get to know a company and its products, and so good fora lead-off 'get to know you' deal.

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Brand and Advertising Awareness

Identifies effective advertising campaigns, understands how a brandresonates with the customer target market, track brand position in orderto better time advertising, and be aware of threats to marketshare.

Provides competitive knowledge.

Brand awareness when done in enterprise contracts typicallyconsist one or more of the following characteristics: a benchmarkingprogram, a tracking study, and a consultative relationship.

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Segmentation and Descriptive Studies

Collect input regarding drivers of purchase, use and/or interest forbetter marketing campaigns.

Lifestyle description puts product/service use in a context.

Segment customers into groups in order to better find them and communicate to them

To create products and services that meet theirneeds.

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The researcher - MBAs often do not have training in conceptual development and clear understanding of statistical tools, but they know management issues; psychologists often lack solid survey research background, but they’re better at measurement validity and reliability.

The client (including internal clients) - often marketing or sales executives, and also product or program managers. These folks tend to disrespect ‘number crunchers’.

Your company hierarchy. See above.

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Background: Problem or motivation. Objectives.

Approach and Method

Schedule (client changes invalidate)

Deliverables (both sides)

Budget (Fixed or Time & Materials)

Qualifications (statement, bio, relevant projects, perhaps resume)

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Conceptual Model

Family Structure & Experience

Anticipated Need


Awareness & Understanding

Availability of Alternatives

Ability & Access

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Questionnaires: see handout

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Banner Reports (see handout) are generated by tabulations software (e.g., Wincross or Microtab). They ‘crosstab’ up to all of the variables in the data set by a defined set of variable values, and provide between group comparisons with a t-test for means and Z-test for percentages. Other statistics are possible.

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  • Table of contents:
    • Background and study objectives
    • Methodology description
    • Key Findings
    • Recommendations and Conclusions
  • Detailed Results
  • Appendices
  • Note: In business reports, you state the result first, and then support it.

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Report: Background & Objectives

Common Reasons for Customer Satisfaction Studies include:

Executive and employee compensation

Service and product improvement

Concerns about competitive advantage

New services and features

Tracking and trending

Brand strength

Include what prompted study.

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Report: Methodology

An overview of important features. Details appear in the appendix (e.g., disposition reports, questionnaires, complex sampling frame calculations):

Description and rationale for quantitative and/or qualitative methods

Dates started, finished

Number of surveys sent out, received, with response rates

Outline of instrument

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Report: Key Findings

Summarize what you want your clients to know, if they don’t remember anything else. These findings may include:

What scored highest and lowest

Which group was associated with highest/lowest results

What factors are associated with positive results (known as ‘drivers’)

Verbatim statements that sum up numeric results.

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Report: Recommendations

Summarize what you want your clients to DO. For example:

Identify groups at risk, and suggest treatments to improve their loyalty.

Highlight features or services that cause dissatisfaction, and point out ways that would resolve problem.

Internal processes that could be tidied up.

Whether to go ahead with new product.

Any other ideas that could help them make things better.

TechSociety Research