Adhoc Research is Dead: What FMCG brands need to know

November 03, 2019

Think about the last time you ate ice cream. Can you remember exactly what you ate it with, who you were with and how you were feeling at the time?

Capturing these moments at the time of consumption is essential if you want to get accurate details of the occasion - as well as the emotional drivers behind the decision. But now try to think of all the times you ate ice-cream over the last year - not only will you struggle to remember the details, but chances are, these occasions were all very different, driven by seasonal changes which influenced what you ate, how you felt and where you were.

Over time, the context of our decisions vary wildly. What we buy, use and consume cannot be understood if we rely on research projects that only capture data at a snapshot in time.

 

Change is coming

The existing system may be flawed, but it can be fixed. How? By tracking consumer behaviour on a continual basis, instead of relying on adhoc, one-off projects.

The consumer research industry is worth $44bn - and much of this is spent on adhoc projects in response to losses in market share which have already happened. But by this point it’s too late. The market has already moved to meet a new customer need.

After all, behaviour isn’t stable - it’s impressionable and nuanced. Ice cream is a classic example – consumption is seasonal, highly contextual and consumption often has strong emotional drivers.

Streetbees research shows that when people who choose ice cream are experiencing negative emotions, they’re more likely to consider alternative foods than when they’re happy.

Capturing behaviour over time with an ‘always on’ approach uncovers which channels and occasions have the greatest incidence and value. Instead of responding to new trends, continuous behaviour tracking puts you ahead of the need - seeing what the rest of the market isn’t.

Understanding your consumer

Every single brand in the world is trying to understand its customers better - responding to new and demanding trends like sustainability, veganism, privacy. And each market needs its own strategic framework.

By tracking behaviour continuously, you get a clearer picture of the differences between different clients, and how to approach product development and brand messaging.

For example, the relationship between snacking and meal times varies considerably by market. France is incredibly structured and regimented about how they eat, whereas the US is fluid with snacking infiltrating meal times. A snacking product that represents a ‘meal within meals’ would therefore be unsuccessful in France, but could be incredibly popular in the US.

Where’s the money?

So what does a typical project and cost look like? Let’s say you did an adhoc study on consumers’ snacking behaviour. Realistically, this would cost you £40k for 2 months (£20k/month) on a project that doesn’t show you anything.

Streetbees’ Always ON approach delivers the same amount of data per month, but at half the cost - and across a 12 month contract. And that’s just the upfront cost - it doesn’t take into account the savings that the data itself can provide.

One very large FMCG company was spending a quarter of a million pounds on research (and that was per category!). It consisted of multiple tools and methodologies.

By adopting our Always ON solution, it was able to make a huge 85% savings on its research budget – all the while getting real-time insights that help it stay ahead of its competitors.

Growth is what every brand strives for - but it can’t be achieved if they don’t know the true drivers behind their customers’ actions.

Albert Einstein explains it perfectly - “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results”. How many times must companies invest in sporadic research that provides outdated learnings before they realise that something’s clearly not working?