Quantitative research methods are good when one needs to get a statistical validation of the answers to simple questions. Those methods are excellent when one needs to get, having an acceptable level of confidence and statistical error, the answers on the questions “what” people do certain things, “how” they do them and “how often”. However, those studies do not really address the question “why” people do those things.
At first glance, the main criteria of choosing one or another product or service provider are evident. These are the price, quality, design, location and some other parameters. However, the medium-to-high involvement purchasing decisions usually imply a more complex customer approach, including the rational and emotional components, which cannot be discovered by a formalized study.
The experience of Magenta Consulting shows that the most effective way to disclose the people’s inner motivation is to use in-depth interviews. A well-prepared middle-to-top level consultant from Magenta conducts each interview. It lasts 40-60 minutes and it is done in a free manner without using a printed questionnaire (only having in mind the moderation guide). The consultant creates an atmosphere of trust and applies the “5 why” technics to get to the core reasons of why people doing certain things in a certain ways.
More questions “why” are needed, because usually the response obtained after the first question is banal, predictable, and useless. For example, if a respondent answers during a quantitative study that he does not buy a certain product because of a “high price”, it is a useless answer, because the price has always some reference points for comparison. It can be a high price comparing to the respondents income (cannot afford); or it might be high price comparing to the same product/service provided by a competitor; or it can be a high price comparing to an alternative solution to solve customer’s problem.
The respondents participating at those interviews are always financially remunerated to become more “open” and share their inner thoughts.
The in-depth interviews help identifying what real reasons (insights) can stand behind the people’s decisions. Having identified those insights and the triggers pushing to make those decisions a company can significantly improve the effectiveness of its communication with the clients.
The information received from the interviews is carefully structured and analyzed “manually”, case by case by the experienced Magenta consultants. Basing on this analysis, we create one or more Buyer Profiles, which share the same purchasing insights, buying pattern and communication channels. Our experience shows that sometimes those profiles might not have common socio-demographic characteristics (although, sometimes they might have) and people with different social and demographic characteristics might have common decision-making patterns.
The practical use of those Buyers Profiles is that basing on them a company can develop a much more focused communication campaign targeted to the real customers with their real needs and values, rather than trying to invent some competitive advantages or use those selling points that “we think our customers consider”.