Consumer Research Methods: Domestic
Three of the best consumer research methods for conducting consumer packaging testing are focus groups, in-depth interviews, and ethnography. All these methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Focus groups are very popular but can suffer from bias and influence, interviews gather detailed insights but rely on the strict vetting of candidates, and ethnography is free from bias but can be difficult to implement.
1) Focus Groups
A Popular Research Method
- According to the packaging industry website packworld.com, focus groups are the most popular qualitative research method applied to package design.
- This research technique is considered to be a great methodology for testing products, packaging, and content.
- When it comes to collecting qualitative data in areas such as packaging testing, new product development, and concept testing, focus groups are deemed to be one of the most effective research methods available.
- Focus groups are essentially group discussions led by a moderator. They count around 8-10 participants.
- Focus groups can easily be setup and used by any CPG company.
- This type of research methodology can be applied to all packaging design projects, including new and innovative designs, product extensions, or brand extension.
- Focus groups can be used efficiently to generate ideas that will be explored further with quantitative methodologies.
- If used carefully and with respect to success criteria, focus groups can be a great cost-effective research method for package testing, and contribute to limit the risk of failed product development choices.
- Despite its ease of usage and popularity, the focus group method does not guarantee useful results.
- The interpretation of focus group results represent a major limitation, as it is affected by the perception of the observing person.
- Another limitation is the number of participants, between 8 and 12, which is not representative of a high proportion of the population.
- The repetition of focus groups might not yield the same results.
- Finally, group dynamics during focus groups might affect the result.
- One example is that outspoken participants might dominate the conversation, but they might not be the most insightful.
2) Depth Interviews
- Depth interview research methodology is recommended as a qualitative technique to be used for package research.
- The depth interview research methodology consists of conducting one-to-one interviews, lasting between one hour and one hour and a half.
- It is run by a professional moderator.
- One of the main advantages of this research method is that it reduces bias and contamination.
- Depth interviews can be used to gather a vast amount of detail.
- Moderators have the opportunity to observe how the participant reacts to the package, including its body language and voice intonation.
- Participants can openly express their views and opinions without worrying about other people's opinions, or being subject to their influence.
- However, in-depth interview remains a qualitative method, and their results are not based on statistical data.
- It is important to carry out a strict vetting of participants to avoid a waste of time and money.
- The success of this research technique relies on the ability of the moderator to get into the participant's mind.
- As packaging's influence is deemed to be subconscious, it might be challenging to obtain answers from the participant to questions related to consciousness.
- This technique yields the best results if the packaging is present with the participant.
- Ethnography or observational research as it is also known, is a recommended qualitative technique for package testing.
- The observational research technique applied to package testing consists of observing participants whilst they shop, read labels, or experience an interaction with the packaging.
- Ethnography is deemed to be free of bias or contamination.
- This means that participants are free to behave themselves naturally, whilst being observed from afar.
- The advantage of this technique is that its sponsors claim that behavior is more reliable than words.
- It is best used at the early stage of some packaging projects, such as an innovative product or a redesign.
- Insights might be gained using this method to test for a new type of packaging by observing the behavior of the participant when faced with the closest substitutes.
- Limits to this method include the fact that it is essential for participants to be completely unaware that they are being observed.
- Much of the success of the method relies on the ability of the observer to correctly interpret behavior and recognize serendipitous insights.