Package Testing: Consumer Research

Part
01
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Part
01

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.

Description

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Description

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

3) Ethnography

Description

  • The observational research technique applied to package testing consists of observing participants whilst they shop, read labels, or experience an interaction with the packaging.

Pros

Cons

  • 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.



Part
02
of three
Part
02

Consumer Research Methods: International

Ethnography, Individual Depth Interviews (IDIs), and Computer-Aided Telephone Interviews (CATIs) are consumer research methods used to evaluate innovative packaging for firms in the Asian market. Below we describe each method, why or how it is deployed in the Asian market, and the advantages and disadvantages of each (including cost-effectiveness).

Research Method #1: Ethnography

Pros

  • Ethnography research is particularly sensitive to cultural nuances insofar as the method was originally developed by anthropologists. Hence, the insights gathered would be specific to the Asia market.
  • Ethnography research is considered to be free of bias or any other contamination of the information by the researcher because it is based on observing behavior (e.g., how a consumer interacts with a product).
  • Some marketing research firms in Asia, for example, RiskyBrand and GMO Research in Japan have developed robust data-bases of the psychographic features of target consumers and software to curate a good sample of participants. RiskyBrand's database focuses on Japan while GMO Research's database is more extensive, "30 million consumers around 15 countries/markets" in the Asia-Pacific region.

Cons

  • Ethnographic market research is time-consuming.
  • This method is also more expensive than other methods.
  • Creating the best sample --who will be included in the study--is complicated. The research team needs to make a lot of decisions, such as do they want participants already familiar with the targeted brand or ones a firm wishes to attract? (However, as noted in the "Pros" above, some marketing firms in Asia have developed proprietary databases and software to improve on this process).

Research Method #2: Individual Depth Interview (IDI)

  • Also offered as a service by marketing research firms in Asia, Individual Depth Interviews (IDIs) involve far fewer participants at one time (8-10) than a usual focus group (up to 20). Having a more manageable size of participants allows researchers to observe the faces of participants, have one-on-one interactions, and use ethnographic techniques to detect emotional responses (i.e., noting facial expressions or change in tone of voice). In some cases, IDIs can focus on one individual at a time.

Pros

  • IDIs can produce very specific, granular information and insights about the product because interviewers can ask follow up questions or return to themes.

Cons

  • IDIs are very time-consuming because they multiple rounds (8-14 times) involve transcribing and analyzing the transcription of the interview.
  • To be successful, IDIs require a very skilled interviewer--one not following a script--but helpfully following the flow of the conversation and digging in when necessary.
  • The reality of group dynamics in IDIs--particularly when you are interviewing more than one person--can affect the quality of the feedback insofar as some more vocal or dominant personalities may sway the group.

Research Method #5: Computer-Aided Telephone Interview (CATI)

  • Asian market research firms also offer Computer-Aided Telephone Interviewing (CATI), which involves interviewing several consumers about a product, however by following a predetermined script of questions (on a computer for the interviewer). The CATI interviewer is then able to immediately input the responses into the computer.

Pros

  • CATI market research is less time-consuming because the data is immediately entered into a database to be analyzed by software.
  • This method is less prone to human error because it is highly regimented (the same questions in the same order for each interviewee) and because it doesn't involve making inferences about body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions.

Cons

  • CATI interviews can make it difficult for an interviewee to change his or her answer because it is designed to move linearly.
  • CATI interviews cannot use visuals or involve tactile and sensory interaction with the product.

Research Strategy

The team first searched for industry reports or news releases, MarketWatch or PR Newsire, that evaluated the best interactive, research methods for packaging companies in the Asian market. The reports we found, however, focused on the emerging market in innovative packaging in Asia, but not methods. In this search, we also tried to narrow the search to packaging firms, located in the Asian market, that serve the apparel and shoe market. But, we could note locate sources with this level of detail about packaging marketing.

We then decided to triangulate the information by first identifying market research firms that specialized in both packaging (in general) and the Asian market. We located some sources from the World Association of Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR.org) and Quirk's Media that identified market research firms specializing in the packaging industry. From these two sources, we located three firms serving the Asian market: CSN Research, GMO Research, and RiskyBrand.

The team first searched the company websites to locate specific press releases, case studies, or reports on the best research methods to use for market research on the packaging industry in Asia. We were not able to find such sources, so we ventured to further triangulate the information by searching more broadly for reports or sources that explained the best research methods for the packaging industry and located an article, from Packaging Digest, that claimed qualitative methods, such as Ethnography and Individual Depth Interviews (IDIs) were best suited. To better ensure that the methods outlined in this article applied to Asia, we then returned to the websites of the above-named companies to determine if they offered these two, and related methods, e.g. Computer-Aided Telephone Interviewing (CATI). We decided to include this third method (CATI), though not directly named in the Packaging Digest article, because it attempts to get some of the same information in the other two methods more cost-efficiently.

Once we identified that each of the companies offered the three methods--Ethnography, IDI, and CATI, the team further searched the identified company websites, explaining how these methods were well-suited for the Asian market. All three companies, indeed, stressed their sensitivity to the specific nuances of this market or advertised their proprietary databases and software capturing the psychographic features of this market.

Lastly, the team searched both on the company websites, and more broadly on market research firms' websites (e.g., Communications for Research, Thakur International, and Drive Research) for analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of each method.
Part
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Part
03

Case Studies: Consumer Research on Packaging

Alpine Dog and DeWalt are two examples of companies that have conducted product testing with customers specifically to aid in the design and selection of packaging.

Alpine Dog

  • Alpine Dog, a locally owned craft brewery headquartered in Denver, CO, used customer-based market research to help optimize their product's packaging and gain a competitive advantage.
  • In this instance, the Alpine Dog team had created six innovative label designs for the next generation of their product, and partnered with researcher GutCheck to conduct two phases of consumer research to identify a "winning label design."
  • While the first phase of research leveraged a quantitative methodology, which presented images and other stimuli for customers to rate on a set scale, the second phase explored and built on those findings by using qualitative survey methods that gathered consumer feedback on a finer level.
  • Overall, the research process was thoughtfully designed, rigorous and quickly executed, allowing Alpine Dog to incorporate the findings of the packaging testing in a matter of weeks, well within the time frames need to meet production goals.e

DeWalt

  • International power tools manufacturer, DeWalt, has also been highlighted as a major brand that leverages its customer base to help develop new products, test packaging and design as well as refine its website usability.
  • Specifically, DeWalt established an Insight community for its customers to share feedback and ideas, which has expanded to over 12,000 active users, including 8,000 professional tradespeople, and 4,000 home users.
  • By using this platform, DeWalt has helped test and prioritize innovative packaging options for a variety of products, including a new series of cordless hammer drills.
  • Ultimately, this co-creation inspired model for testing products with consumers has saved DeWalt approximately $6 million in research costs to date.
Sources
Sources