Celebration is the essence of uni-life, but my first drinking experience was nothing but a massive debate, a Brand chaos amongst my friends so as to help me have a great first experience. There were brand names flying across the table, whereas, on trying I couldn’t tell the difference!
That, I can say was my first rendezvous with an informal, yet potential market research, for a product like Beer. Green & Tull (1978) define market research as – “The systematic, objective search for, and analysis of, information relevant to the identification/solution of any problem in the marketing domain”.
How effective is market research?
This very incident led me towards the case of the well-known beer brand, Budweiser, which defies the purpose of Market Research, and is an example of research gone wrong. Graves (2010) mentions it in his book Consumer.ology; an acquaintance of his was once a part of a focus group conducted by Anheuser-Busch whilst deciding whether or not to launch the American-ale in UK. The audiences were ruthlessly critical and emotive while expressing their disappointment. Normally, that would be discouraging, but August Busch III went ahead with the launch, and the product was a roaring success!
So, why does market research fail?
Study conducted by McKinsey&Company reveals that around 80% of the existing crème companies, kept consistent contact with their customers, with utmost leverage to their preferences. This emphasizes on how crucial the incorporation of market research is. But having said that, there have been countless instances where market research has failed the organization, like our very own Budweiser.
Infinit Datum elaborates in his blog the many mistakes that market researchers make, and their consequences. We see 95% of new products introduced failing each year as companies delve deep into these procedures without any clear idea of what they are looking for. The amounts invested in market research are exorbitant, thus a failure would result into massive losses. A thorough self-assessment and aspects, such as the following, need serious consideration( Glowa 2015).
The Secondary Data that is collected, how legitimate is it? Additionally, quantitative and qualitative data is efficient and gives you an insight into the position and potential of a product, but again- Are the right questions asked? Do they align with the line of reference?
The Budweiser’s focus group, predominantly fell under qualitative research. And there are countless ways through which it can go wrong. The biggest flaw is bombarding the audiences with poor quality questions that alert the conscious mind, resulting into altered opinions, whereas the aim should be to trigger the subconscious mind and record the involuntary responses. In such industries, the most often asked question is “Why do you like the said brand of beer?” ,the obvious answer would be- Taste! Such vague questions don’t simplify, but elongate the procedure.
For instance, in a ‘spectrum of desire’ for a survey, why would a consumer want to settle for less? Wouldn’t the answers be standard? For a product like beer, the perspectives that people have are very subjective. When brand-loyalty plays a primary role in the marketing dynamics, customers also get well-familiarized with the taste associated and are often unwilling to experiment with the new options. And also, a newly introduced alcoholic beverage will need time to get accustomed to, as a brand AND the taste.
There also exists a confirmation bias, the researchers calculatedly set up a situation to imprinted certain ideas onto the minds of the customer, altering their opinion. This in return, satisfies the researcher’s preconceived notions and renders the process useless. The heart of the issue is the fact that people don’t know how they will respond to something new when they encounter it in the real world (Graves 2013). So, how can focus groups be enough to make such crucial decisions?
Therefore, amongst the uncountable methodologies in market research, we need to adopt a distinctive approach which gives us unadulterated opinions, specifically tailored to our problems. The wrong approach can be highly jeopardizing; coke being a classic example!
The most recent market research of Budweiser in UK was with respect to a distinct approach of packaging for pubs, which garnered acceptance. Now that the product has been released in the market, let’s see if they hit the jackpot again!
As for my dilemma of choice, an article by a beer expert Bryce Eddings enlightens the best beer-seeking folks like me with the fact that the best beer is the one that is brewed closest to you, as it establishes attractive equations with factors like convenience, atmosphere, expenses and company! So if I ever work for this industry, taste and brand aren’t the only checkboxes that I would want to tick!
And, did I forget to explicitly mention the exact feedback of one of the individuals at the Budweiser focus group? Well, it went something like this,
Name– Saie A Joshi
Student Id– 216004961
Graves, P (2010), Consumer.ology: The Market Research Myth, the Truth About Consumers and the Psychology of Shoppers.
Green, P.E., Tull, D.S. and Albaum, G. (1988), Research For Marketing Decisions, 5th edition, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey.
Stevens, G.A & Burley, J( 1997), “3000 Raw Ideas= 1 Commercial Success!”.
Graves, P (2013),”The Funniest Market Research Finding I’ve Ever Read: People ask the funniest (dumbest) things”.
Gross, O (2016),”Budweiser launches Twist Off bottle caps for pubs”.