October 13 , 2006
- by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I hear that when people in market research are asked what do they need, in order to uncover more market opportunities, the response is almost always more money. That may be true for most people but I would like to believe that there are more creative members of our profession. In the tradition of CPSI ( Creative Problem Solving Institute), the question should be, "How, or in what way, might we become more effective with our current budget?" (God forbid a government agency might ask this question.)
Faced with a similar question about a half century ago, P&G took a series of steps that I believe made P&G what it is today. At the time, consumer research was extremely expensive, almost all studies were placed door-to-door.
Not only were they expensive, it took months to get a study in the field and more months to get the final report. These conditions were not conducive to R&D research. (Maybe this is the reason that there was very little market research conducted by R&D in those days.) As a result, an in-house R&D Research team was set up to conduct consumer research for projects in the Exploratory and Experimental categories. In these areas, emphasis was placed on the Beta risk while we de-emphasized the Alpha risk.
The result was a Central Location Multiple Visit Multi-Tasking operation whereby test participants would be utilized for more than one test. The restrictions were that no one participant could do more than one test within a product category or in complimentary categories.
Without going into great detail the following is the result of this effort:
Resources: research teams would visit 28 cities a year for a period of 5 weeks
1,800 Female Heads of Household (FHH) available for face to face testing in three cities, 50 weeks a year.
75,000 up-to-date mail panel
Costs: The following costs are of the 80s vintage.
Use Testing: $9 - $10 CPI vs. $35 - $40 CPI
Spot Testing - $2 - $3 CPI vs. $18 - $20 CPI
Focus Group lnterviews: $200 (in-home) vs $2,000
Availability: Tests in the field next week vs. next month or later (with conventional testing)
Results: Top Lines - within first 24 hours of next work week vs. one week or more
Final Report - within first 48 hours of the next work week vs. one month or more
The dividends returned were excellent. In the 60s P&G introduced one new successful brand a month. The 70s were a little better and in the 80s, three new successful brands were introduced per month. The success brought internal political problems and the group was disbanded in the 90s.
I have often thought about how, with all the technology available today, a program similar to this one might be brought into play to reduce costs and stimulate more research, especially in the areas of Exploratory and Experimental Research, two areas where marketers have little training or experence.