How not to waste money in learning about your customers and markets

Don’t waste money and time in doing research…. if it is not going to be done ‘correctly’.

A while back, I was talking to a senior executive, the VP of Marketing of a big international airline. An interesting point came up in the conversation.

The business had previously invested a lot of time and money with external agencies carrying out various primary research (e.g. fieldwork study, focus groups) while they were trying to understand more about their South East Asia travellers.

One of the insights or rather a hypothesis they got out from all the research was that: Family plays an important role in travelling in this region. The business then was left with the questions of: What does this really mean and what can we do about it.

Research is just a formality if it does not identify in-depth insights, but just the trivial ones.

Research output is just a stack of reading materials if it does not translate into actionable outcomes.

This particular insight, in fact, was one which we have already shared in one of our articles (without any primary research prior to it).

I can’t help feeling a slight frustration for the VP of Marketing of this airline. With the money and time they have invested in the primary research they commissioned, they could easily have clear answers to those two key questions, and more.

How to make sure you get what you need?

How would we at Beyō Global approach this such brief was given to us?

To help this airline to identify strategic growth initiatives and business propositions for their South East Asia markets

This is, in fact, similar to the type of briefs we often receive from our clients. 

The only way to have solid insights to feed into these decisions is to understand not only the end-to-end journeys the locals experienced or are experiencing (e.g. their behaviours, needs, frustrations, attitudes), but also their context (e.g. social norms, cultural, environment, cultural value and so on).

We understand that doing research in different markets especially when it involves travelling could take up a big chunk of our clients’ yearly budget. Hence, one key thing for Beyō Global is to conduct solid research which could help them identify the most insights and to answer the majority, if not all, of the key questions they have.

How do we do that, for example, for this airline?

It is all down to knowing:

  • How to choose the right research method(s)

  • What to focus on (and not to focus on) when designing the research

  • What to dig deeper during the research and how to pull out important, relevant insights

  • How to interpret the insights and tie everything together to answer the key question: “So now what?”

South Korea Home Visit.jpg
User Research South Korea.jpg

This is what we mean:

1. Research methods There are many primary research methods could be used to achieve that. Each has pros and cons. Each brings us different types of insights. It all depends on the nature of the business, how and where the products or services would be used and so on. Choosing the right approaches is vital, not just on the cost and time point of view, but also the quality of output and outcome.

For example, as booking a flight and travel process span across different stages in the whole travellers’ end-to-end experience, should you do diary study, house visits, face-to-face lab interviews, or airports observations? It might not be possible for you to use all of these approaches due to timing and budget. Which one(s) to choose to give you the most insights?

2. Designing the research Don’t go into research as a blank sheet. It is important (and more effective) to go into the research by having some kind of hypotheses to validate or areas to dig deeper. In this case, we would have identified the relevant factors which could influence how South East Asians (such as Malaysians, Indonesians, Thais) book a holiday and a flight, what is important to them and so on.

For example, South East Asia is a collectivist society. Therefore, traveling as a group (with extended family or friends) is a common thing and family value comes into play in many ways.

How can these two high-level insights be applied in the research? You can create questions that indirectly allow you to encourage the travellers whom you speak to tell you more about the involvement of people around them in their travel considerations (e.g. at what stage in the journey, in what way, etc). You can also think about a different research approach to dig more into this aspect. 

Without these insights, you will likely get some good high-level insights but not the in-depth ones, such as the issue this airline company is facing.  The latter allows you to make key business decisions.

Research in Russia

Research in Russia

3. Digging in and pulling out important, relevant insights During the research, the skills of being able to listen and pick out relevant insights is key. Sometimes, what the participants said might sound trivial and insignificant. But knowing when to dig into it a bit more is crucial. You could then discover and uncover the most valuable, meaningful insights, which might end up being the one thing that differentiates your business from others.

For example, if the participant says “I mostly travel with my family”. You might want to dig deeper who the family consists of as they might include their wife, children, siblings (and their family) and parents. Maybe the further questions would be to explore how such travels would influence their airline choices; and what would make the experience different between travelling with their family and with just by themselves or with one other person.

4. Interpreting the insights After a full research session is completed, we analyse, synthesise and interpret the findings we collected. To wrap up a project, we normally would suggest having a workshop with our client’s teams, to present the findings and to discuss the ‘So what’s next’ questions. It is the most efficient way to have an aligned view of the research output and actionable (tactical and strategic) outcome.

When we sit down together and present our interpretation of the research, very often our clients (who often were also with us during the research sessions) appreciate most how we consolidate and tie everything together.

Successful research means getting insightful answers and prospectives on your customers in different markets which lead to clear actionable outcomes.

Research is not just a tick box exercise

You can get tremendous value if research is to be done properly: The methods used, the skills and experience which comes with it to design, conduct and analyse.

Want to know how we maximise research impact to help businesses identify their strategic growth initiatives and business propositions for various markets at Beyō Global? Get in touch with us