Branding Tips

Market Research Is Boring...If You Let It Be

When you think of "Market Research" it's possible you might start to feel panicky. Maybe you even started falling asleep just reading the words. Technically speaking, market research is any organized effort to gather information about target markets, audiences or customers. Research. Ugh! Statistical and analytical methods? It sounds like a branding buzzkill.

But, it doesn't have to be. It's no surprise that as a branding and design firm, we love to do the fun stuff. You know, the sketching, logo options, website layouts, drinking beer, packaging design, etc. However, the ideas for those designs don't appear out of thin air. That's why we take our research so seriously. Our market research, per se, is discovering your brand, industry, target audience and competitors. But don't expect us to be carrying a calculator around.

Recently we've been working with a federal credit union located in the Baltimore, D.C. and Philadelphia areas. Our mission was to figure out the financial goals of their target market: federal employees. Sure, we could have sent out a mass produced email survey to current customers, but that's not how we roll at Peppermill. The credit union wanted to attract potential customers with the campaign, so instead of using bank jargon and common bank colors (green), we went bold, bright and asked one simple question: "What would you do with a million dollars?" The number was large enough to make a financial difference, but not too big that the goals were unattainable. The question was printed on colorful Post-It notes and on t-shirts for our team to wear for the next step of our market research process.

Along with the federal credit union staff, we set up shop at two D.C. federal buildings during lunch time. Decked out in our extremely bright t-shirts, we approached passerbys and asked them to share their million dollar dreams. The notes were then stuck onto a large white canvas for all to see. The display created an interactive experience and a buzz in the hallways.

The answers we received were pretty awesome. Some were as simple as “retire," or a little more blunt: "get the hell out of here." Others had in depth, detailed plans. Many people wrote down several things they would do with a million dollars. In that case, we tallied each point listed on that Post-It note. Because of this, there are actually more answers than Post-It notes. To keep an organized tally, we divided answers into the following categories:

Retirement: 17%
Bills/Loans: 15%
Donate/Volunteer: 15%
Mortgage/House Purchases and Improvements: 13%
Vacation/Travel: 12%
Save/Invest: 10%
Life Changes/Start a Business/Other: 8%
Family (College funds for children, spread the wealth, etc.): 8%
Happy As Is: 2%

So what does this all mean? How is this market research? And why in the heck do 5 people not want a million dollars? I can't answer that last question (those are some happy people), but the point is, we got to know our target market. With a theoretical question, we were able to understand the financial goals of federal employees and what they might look for in a bank. Moving forward, these million dollar dreams will be used in campaigns and advertisements for the federal credit union. Success!

To start your own branding market research, I offer three tips for branding market research and they're ridiculously simple.

The best way to understand your target market and audience is to not just know who they are, but how they think and feel. Where do they shop? Where do they go out to eat? What brands do they wear? Do they have children? Married? Are they stressed out at work (Yes)? What type of beer do they drink? How MUCH beer do they drink? You really need to understand your audience as human beings.

The federal credit union we were working with uses a color scheme of red, white and blue. Because America, obviously. In federal buildings, this is the norm. What would stand out? Hot pink, of course! But, being bold just isn't about the colors you use. A federal credit union seems like an extremely conservative place, but you can't be conservative when you want real, gritty answers. We made our client step out from behind their bank counters and into a lunch room. They traded in their suitcoats for neon tshirts and looked bold. And beautiful. The bold and the beautiful.

Post by: Nicole Anegon

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