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  • Writer's pictureHearst Pittsburgh

Have You Asked Your Customers What They Want Lately?

How Brands Benefit from Local Market Surveys

If you run marketing and advertising for a growth-minded business, you’ve likely heard the famous quip: “Half my advertising spend is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.” Promoting a brand brings up plenty of questions with regards to meeting consumers' needs and winning their business. In a perfect world, you’d just ask your customers whatever it is you want to know. But, as it so often goes, effective consumer research isn’t that simple.

Determining what you want to ask, and who you want to ask are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to effective consumer research. Who do you want to research? What questions do you have for them? How can you leverage those answers?

Speaking off-the-cuff here, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a marketing decision-maker who would tell you “I’ve got all the consumer data I need, thanks.” And while tools like customer reviews, net promoter score (NPS) tracking, and even branded surveys, can help you understand your current customers, the question of reaching and influencing the prospects who are not yet interacting with your brand remains unanswered.

That’s where a third-party consumer research survey can prove immensely beneficial to growth-oriented marketers looking to connect with and better understand new audiences. We’ve found that success and methodical research go hand-in-hand. With countless variables making an impact your campaigns’ effectiveness, survey data can remove significant ambiguity about your marketplace and your product, including consumer awareness and perception.

The uncertain economic horizon in the year ahead will surely impact consumers behaviors and sensitivities to branding choices. Market research surveys can provide a deeper understanding of your existing and potential customer’s needs and preferred shopping methods. Savvy advertisers use surveys to:

  • Get to Know Your Audience: Imagine you are at a party and meet someone new. Sure, maybe you’d ask a few getting to know you questions that capture “demographic data” like where they live or what they do for a living. But the conversation really gets going when you go deeper than the basics. You get to know them better by learning their interests and hobbies, their likes and dislikes. The same party rules apply in consumer research. Asking the right questions can reveal key information about how they like to shop, where they consume media, the online communities they are part of, the challenges they face, and the social causes they care about.

  • Analyze Awareness for Your Brand: By asking questions that focus on shoppers’ overall awareness for your brand within your category, you can assess how successful your marketing, advertising, and branding campaigns have been to date. In addition to putting a “stake in the ground” to track growth against, these types of surveys questions can also help you recognize opportunities for future improvement and reveal unexpected associations that customers make with your business.

  • Understand Your Brand’s Competitive Position: Like it or not, you share a target audience with the competitors in your space. They’re working to win attention and conversion for the same eyes on their ads and dollars in purchases. It’s critical to understand not just how your brand is seen in the market, but also how it stacks up in the larger picture. For example, with survey data, you can understand the gaps that you or your competitors aren’t fulfilling and capitalize on filling them. Other competitive insights you can explore include how potential customers are discovering your competitor’s product, which features they most prefer, their confidence in your industry, user behavior, and more.

  • Develop New Product Offerings with Confidence: If you’re planning to launch new products and services or shake up the ones you already have, surveys can be an excellent tool to assess the demand for your offerings. Asking the right kinds of questions will empower you to test which product concepts, specifications, value propositions, and pricing will most resonate with buyers ahead of making an investment in the development process. Collecting this feedback before, during, and after product suite adjustments can inform your future marketing and product development strategies.

Of course, recognizing the benefits of surveying consumers is only the first step in chiseling out the critical insights from the data. Designing, scaling, and analyzing surveys takes careful consideration and more than a little methodological sophistication.

At WTAE Hearst Pittsburgh, we’re immensely strong believers in the power of consumer research. That’s why we’ve partnered with Marshall Marketing for the last 37 years to craft and complete robust, biannual surveys that take the pulse on the Pittsburgh DMA. Whether you’re looking for a comprehensive overview study of your brand, or just have one or two burning questions for the people of Pittsburgh, we offer these surveys as a part of our research suite to get you those answers.


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