• Understanding Consumers

Why Understanding Consumers in the Moment is So Critical Right Now

Matt Kaplan
Content Strategist
5 min read
Posted on May 19, 2020

How well are you understanding consumers right now, in this very moment? After all, even if you felt like you had your finger on the pulse of your customers (or your customer’s customers) in January, that knowledge may not be totally relevant or helpful right now. 

Note: This is the first of a new three-part blog series. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads and dramatically disrupts life as normal, here are our thoughts on what our trusted customers and partners can do to weather the storm. 

In this first post, we discuss how critical it is for brands to understand their consumers in as close to real-time as possible, as the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic changes quickly. How can brands use this time to get closer to their audiences, what kind of data they need and how to source this knowledge. 

How to Understand In-the-Moment Consumer Behavior 

No matter if a company is selling products, services or something else, it should understand what goes into purchase decisions. For example, when a consumer purchases a particular item, what’s compelling her or him to make that decision? Is it based on price or convenience, or more on psychological factors like brand loyalty and perception? 

And, at a more fundamental level, what does this consumer even look like? What is their age, gender and occupation? Where do they live and how much do they make in a typical year? What brands do they like? 

It’s easy to see the value in all this. Of course, all good brands want to confidently answer all of these questions. The problem, however, is in how brands historically collect data. And, these issues are especially pressing in light of the extent to which COVID-19 has upended all of our lives and livelihoods. 

In the past, brands heavily relied on focus groups or data from rewards programs. Of late, many have turned to digital data sources like social media or email address lists. But, these sources of knowledge are either slow or incomplete. Focus groups, for example, can take months to complete, and these kinds of mass gatherings are banned in most places right now anyway. Opt-in email lists and reward programs are great sources of knowledge, but they are often limited. 

So what’s better? Ideally, brands should be gathering complete, real-time sources of knowledge, so they can know right away what their customers care about right now and what they expect from the brand in the moment. 

How to Use Consumer and Market Research to Inform Marketing Campaigns 

It’s one thing to acknowledge the benefits of real-time data. But how can it be gathered and collated in an effective fashion? In this respect, mobile is often ideal.  

In the realm of mobile, there are two key sources of knowledge that are worthwhile to focus in on. For one, telco data can highlight where a mobile device owner is located (since we carry own mobile devices with us all the time) and what they care about (which can be determined through app ownership and usage). Through this knowledge, brands can use app usage data to find out who their ideal audiences are and then target them where they are, both virtually and physically. 

In addition, mobile devices can be a great source of customer perceptions. By running surveys through mobile apps, brands can both reach a wide audience and get insights very quickly. 

It’s easy to see how both sources of information can be valuable to brands in this present moment. We’re all dealing with so much ambiguity in the world. But, through mobile, it’s possible for brands to put their finger on the pulse of their consumers in the here and now, and to track behaviors and perceptions as the pandemic progresses. 

Be sure to stay tuned to the next installment of this blog series, where we’ll be talking about why brands should shift to in-app marketing and how to make the most of mobile apps. 

About the Author 

Matthew Kaplan has over a decade of digital marketing experience, working to support the content goals of the world’s biggest B2B and B2C brands. He is a passionate app user and evangelist, working to support diverse marketing campaigns across devices. He is currently spending his free time watching too much TV and engaging in various cooking projects. 

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