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The explorative-type method is an approach in the areas of consumer, market, and behavioral research where no strictly standardized research methods are used aside from different types of surveys, interviews, and research. Type identifications and segments are often composed with this data to map the customer groups and types that have already been in contact with the product, business or web offer.
The explorative-type method generally consists of early research on a topic for which no confirmed data exists yet. It is therefore also called primary research or field research. The research goals of this approach, with regard to websites, online shops, and other applications, is to gather information about purchase decisions, attitudes of consumers, or the needs and requirements of consumers and users of an online project.
Exploratory approaches usually try to reveal the subjective attitudes consumers have about a particular offer and how they make purchasing decisions. The information gained form this can be utilized as a starting point for the launch of a product or the design of marketing campaigns. Such information is valuable, particularly for new markets which are not yet very strong. That way, sales opportunities for a product can be at least roughly estimated. Consumers stating on a survey that they would buy the product is an indicator of a successful market launch and potential sales.
The explorative-type method is, however, not suitable to aid in decision-making at management level because this method is not quantifiable per se. It cannot be reduced to statistical figures alone. Instead, exploratory research is intended to reveal information on a topic that was previously unknown. Such insights are first-hand information for market participants. The perception of potential customers is crucial for long-term business success and the improvement of a portfolio. Robust data is gained through other types of research, descriptive and explanative research, for example. As a rule, further investigations follow the explorative-type method.
How it works
The exploratory-type method can consist of different forms of interviews, surveys and research. The following are possible forms and combinations of these:
- Individual interviews: Such interviews may be conducted by telephone, email or online tools. The questionnaires are generally simple or they use a multiple-choice approach.
- Deep interviews: These types of interviews are characterized by open-ended questions, to which respondents can answer openly. This has the advantage that even unanticipated responses and deeper insights into the behavior of consumers are possible. That way, hypotheses can be formed that would not have been possible in individual interviews.
- Group surveys and discussions: Group dynamics often lead to new findings in these surveys or discussions. The participants interact and create new perspectives on a topic as a group. You can also use focus groups, which is a group of 8 to 10 participants selected from a target group.
- Expert discussions: Experts usually have in-depth knowledge in a specialist area. Discussions with experts can reveal problems which the creator of the study and the study participants would not have thought of. Exchange with an expert opens up an additional perspective.
- Research of technical literature and on the Internet: Research can be used to support vague assumptions and initial hypotheses with corresponding research and arguments.
The results of these surveys and interviews can then be evaluated, resulting in patterns and types of customers. This is useful when it comes to brand management or branding. In these contexts, the results are certainly the blueprint for the later marketing strategy of campaigns or product launches. In the event of problems and decreases in sales, such results can also help to identify the causes and identify counter-measures to be taken.
There are numerous market research tools and test scenarios that provide an explorative approach which integrates consumers, users, and customers into the value chain in a variety of ways.
- Limbic® Personas
- Customer empowerment
- Crowdsourcing and crowd testing
- Usability tests
- Thinking aloud test
- Heuristic evaluation
- Cognitive walkthrough
- System usability scale
Benefits / Disadvantages
- Up-to-date data on products, business models, and markets can be collected from first-hand sources. A direct customer feedback is possible.
- Customer types and groups, as well as segments can be created to align and optimize the portfolio.
- The explorative-type method is usually very cost and time-intensive.
- The data obtained is of a qualitative nature. It is not suitable as a basis for decision-making in the sense of quantitative data. Further research data may be necessary.
Relevance to online marketing
In the area of online marketing, the findings from exploratory approaches are extremely valuable. They provide an insight into the perception of potential customers and thus open up new perspectives for companies and service providers, whether for a product launch, a redesign or a new online shop. While conventional business processes and marketing methods are usually based on the product, the explorative approach is based on the users of the product. Against the backdrop of the Google premise that web applications are created for users and not for search engines, this approach gets more weight. The exploratory-type method makes user needs and requirements visible.
- What are different types of Marketing Research? whatismarketresearch.com. Retrieved on 11/06/2015
- Comparing Closed-Ended and Open-Ended Questions fluidsurveys.com. Retrieved on 11/06/2015
- Exploratory Research: What is it? And 4 Ways to Implement it in Your Research! fluidsurveys.com. Retrieved on 11/06/2015
- 3 Types of Survey Research, When to Use Them, and How they Can Benefit Your Organization! fluidsurveys.com. Retrieved 11/06/2015