We conduct market research to have a better understanding of our customers that will aid us in making effective business decisions. A true understanding of the customers cannot be achieved and shared with stakeholders through a long list of quantitative data. In order to have a holistic view of customers that considers the context of individuals in a way that can be conveyed to decision-makers within the business, stories must be involved in both the research process and its presentation. Stories are not only a more memorable mean of communication than facts alone, but they also allow us to truly understand and design for others.
STORIES IN RESEARCH METHODS
In the earliest stage of market research projects, honing in on what the research problem is, stories can help marketers make sense of complex situations. By gathering narratives from participants, researchers gain a better understanding of emotions and issues that would be missed through other methods of collecting information. Participants have more self-expression through storytelling and can produce valuable insight through their unique perspective and ways they interpret the world. Asking participants to share their experience in this open-ended manner gives the researcher a chance to find the underlying problems that need more investigation. The customers are given a chance to express their needs and their stories create a context under which to frame the research in a more meaningful way.
CONVEYING RESULTS THROUGH STORIES
The context of the customer perspective can be conveyed through their stories to deliver powerful messages to business decision makers. Once the unmet needs of customers have been identified through their stories and the supporting data has been collected, the market research must be used effectively in business decisions to produce the desired results. To present the findings in a way that will effectively guide business decision making, storytelling comes into play again. Meaningful insights must take into account the customers, their backgrounds, and what they want from the business. Conveying the story of a customer profile is more than just listing the demographics, psychographics, geographic, and behavioral characteristics of the target market. It’s understanding the customer and what leads them to the interaction with your product or service. Stories, unlike statistics, allow the listener to put themselves in another’s position and feel what they are feeling. This kind of insight is invaluable in market research as it gives business decision makers a path into the mind of the customer. The statistics and numbers produced through traditional research methods can then be used as evidence to show that the story is more than just a one-time event.
Telling the story of the market research is mixing the art of formulating a compelling narrative with the science of summarizing the data collected. Researchers need to make sure that their story is easy to follow, with their key problem being addressed. There should be a specific message that the stories from the research support in order to guide decision making in the right direction. Through incorporating storytelling in identifying the research problem and presenting the findings, market research can drive design and innovation that better serves the business’ customers.
To better harness the power of customer stories in your market research, feel free to contact us here.