To construct an efficient profitable business in China, one must conduct sophisticated and comprehensive market research. Indeed, it is the process by which one surveys the market and locates a target customer. If a business does not comprehend their consumer, they will struggle to sell their products or services, especially in the Chinese market.
Consequently, this blog post will aim to provide an insight into five market research methodologies that help businesses leverage noteworthy evidence of Chinese consumer behavior and Chinese market dynamics. Although a lot of market research is merely desk research, there are other essential techniques used by market research firms that are less well-known but equally valuable. These methodologies produce both quantitative and qualitative data and can be used in a variety of situations. They might be your pathway to understanding your future Chinese customer!
Focus groups are guided natural conversations between potential customers. Usually it’s an organized group of six to ten participants from the public to speak with each other about a product or service for a sustained period of time. The aim is for participants to reveal and even debate their opinions. To ensure topical focus, an informed moderator should direct the conversation.
Focus groups should be held in settings that relax participants so they are at ease to divulge their opinions. Focus groups are a useful technique because they provide qualitative data. From brand image to brand competition, focus groups can be a portal to in-depth consumer opinions that would not be possible to grasp without conversation. Furthermore, if one invites participants from contrasting demographics, such as location, age or class, one can gauge the reasons for market segmentation within an industry.
The art of conducting an informative focus group, however, is in the skill of the moderator. They must push and direct conversation when necessary, whilst also allowing participants to voice their opinions and dominate conversation. If directed as suggested in this post, important qualitative data can be attained.
Qualitative data by itself, however, is not adequate to achieve complete knowledge of a market. It must be complemented by quantitative data too. A useful market research methodology in China to access quantitative data is via surveys. Their power is that one can target vast demographics both online and offline. Using social media in China and other online mediums one can access specific social groups, from young millennials to adults with children.
The large quantity of feedback reveals important Chinese market trends and Chinese market segmentation. Indeed, this same process can be replicated in an offline community who prefer to purchase goods in shops. By handing out questionnaires in specific stores, one would eventually gain the necessary feedback. One could select, for example, a range of stores from different cities to gauge how consumer preferences differ depending on contrasting living standards.
The qualitative data produced from focus groups explains in detail why Chinese consumers have particular product preferences. This should be paired though with broader quantitative data that outlines general Chinese market trends. This can be obtained by creating online and offline surveys. Furthermore, they are very cost-efficient and are a methodology that any business with suitable management could use.
Surveys and focus groups obtain data from consumers that have been rationally processed by participants. It is significant to note, however, that not all consumer behavior is rational. Indeed, what might draw a Chinese consumer to a particular online advertisement or product on a shop shelf surrounded by competition can be irrational. Chinese consumers might be subconsciously drawn by a color or font size.
Eye tracking is a market research methodology that exposes this irrational decision making. The technique quite simply measures eye activity. Although this is a basic concept, the collection of data and subsequent analysis of the data requires experience and expertise. To measure eye activity, the participant must wear a remote or head-mounted ‘eye tracker’ that is connected to a computer. When the participant is shown the relevant material selected by those organizing the experiment, a near-infrared light is directed towards the center of the participant’s eye. This triggers visible reflections in the cornea (outermost optical element of the eye) and one can consequently record the participant’s eye activity.
Eye tracking allows those conducting the experiment to track four important actions. It highlights what the participant sees and does not see, the time taken for the participant to arrive at a specific fixation, the length of any fixation and the number of fixations per object, image or video shown. These are useful sources of data to assess the visibility of a product or the effectiveness of a website. It can become a diagnostic tool that underlines product visibility, which in turn links to brand persuasiveness and other noteworthy metrics. Whilst it is expensive and requires skilled management, it is a methodology that tracks irrational consumer behavior which other techniques do not expose.
The methodologies described thus far engage directly with consumers. The final two techniques to be reviewed do not. Nevertheless, they still have useful functions. Store checks are a sensible pathway to begin Chinese competitor analysis and review the environment of a product at the point-of-sales. Whereas eye tracking demonstrates why a product might be immediately more attractive, store checks allow businesses to analyze how other companies are attempting to entice Chinese consumers.
By sending researchers into stores where one’s product might be sold, one can record details regarding similar products at the point-of-sales. One can note the range of prices, the advertisement used and the order the store lays out the produce they sell. Indeed, the list of information to note is all-embracing.
The point-of-sales environment provides a context by which to analyze other data and will help shape the marketing strategy businesses then adopt. It is vital to understand one’s consumer. An Equally essential aspect of market research, however, is to figure out how to make one’s product or service more appealing than the competition. Store checks can provide appropriate data.
Mystery shopping is different from every other technique mentioned above. It can only be used once a business has actually entered the Chinese market or is piloting ideas. It is used to test whether a business is presenting itself as originally envisioned. Accordingly, it is practiced with businesses that sell directly to Chinese consumers in shops.
An informed participant must enter the shop and interact with sales assistants, observe the layout of the store, and the location of the products. Through this interaction, it will be clear if the shop is managed suitably and is exuding the intended image.
Store checks can be a fruitful tool for Chinese competitor analysis. Mystery shopping, however, serves as a form of self-analysis. All businesses should conduct self-evaluation. Mystery shopping is the perfect methodology to ensure that one’s market strategy is being carried out successfully.
Market research in China is far more than desk research. There are many methodologies, from focus groups to eye tracking, which businesses can use to leverage data regarding Chinese consumer behavior and Chinese market dynamics. Moreover, they should not be used in isolation. When combined one can obtain both qualitative and quantitative data.
Additionally, one can begin to comprehend the irrational behavior of consumers. It is also possible to conduct competitor analysis and self-evaluation. The tapestry of data one will eventually uncover is the path to comprehensive market research. More importantly, it is essential to finally build an efficient profitable business.