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We connect brands with real emotions

Why do most product innovations fail even though manufacturers have supposedly listened carefully to their customers? The reason is quite simple: Conventional consumer surveys do not take certain crucial subtleties into account.

This innovative methodology is a real breakthrough in market research.

I love it. Three little words that convey an enormous amount of emotional power. When consumers choose these words, they are expressing the greatest possible affinity for the product. Marketing experts see such a strong statement as a sign that their concept has been accepted and internalized, while for product developers the phrase demonstrates that they have evidently done everything right. It sends a signal to the company that its product or service seems to have every chance of success because customers apparently love it.

However, the reality is often very different. One key reason why about three-quarters of all product innovations fail in the marketplace is that some major subtleties in consumer statements are simply ignored. This is because market research traditionally only considers the content of consumer feedback, that is to say the what element of statements. In contrast, the how and consequently the way in which respondents package their message has been completely neglected to date. However, this packaging is just as revealing – if not more so – than the content of the statement itself.

What exactly does “I love it“ mean?

A consumer can, for example, use the three little words “I love it” to express passion, irony, conviction or sarcasm, giving the phrase very different meanings. Consequently, anyone recording only the content of this statement misses one of its main dimensions. In the worst-case scenario, feedback from potential customers is interpreted in completely the wrong way.

In light of this, an innovative tool should significantly improve the quality of consumer analysis, a tool that GfK started using on a world-exclusive basis in 2015. GfK MarketBuilder Voice combines the systematic evaluation of consumer statements with an analysis of the respondents’ language and how they express themselves. “For the first time in history, we can very efficiently record not only the what, but also the how in consumer statements,” explains Marilyn Raymond, Global Head of Market Opportunities & Innovation (MOI) at GfK. “This produces a vast amount of added value for manufacturers and advertisers.” Instead of the one-dimensional survey used in conventional market research, companies can use GfK MarketBuilder Voice to start a genuine, authentic, in-depth dialogue with their (potential) customers. The leap in the quality of communication is about as big as between a text message on the mobile phone and a face-to-face conversation – you simply learn so much more. This also explains why the consumer goods manufacturers who tried out the innovative GfK methodology with Raymond and her colleagues were highly impressed.

„For the first time in history, we can very efficiently record not only the what, but also the how in consumer statements.“

Marilyn Raymond // Global Head Market Opportunities & Innovation GfK

Pitch and enunciation as revealing indicators

The highly effective market research tool was created by combining unique skills both from within and outside GfK. Together with scientists from Imperial College London, GfK has developed the first software to record parameters such as the pitch, intensity or intonation of consumer statements empirically. Voice analysis is supported by GfK SenseCode, a tried-and-tested GfK technique to evaluate unstructured data and thereby the content of consumer statements. Marilyn Raymond and her Market Opportunities & Innovation team then derived a set of significant key performance indicators from the much broader range of data – KPIs that went far beyond the usual ones.

“Existing KPIs do not really capture the emotional involvement expressed by consumers,” explains Danica Allen, Global Director MOI Product Development at GfK. However, the E3 concept developed by her and her team covers three parameters, namely excitement, sentiment and activation, to draw conclusions on the acceptance of a product or concept.

This is the first concept to record and analyze the greatest common denominator of human communi­cation – language – in its main facets. It is no wonder that specialists consider voice analytics to be a real breakthrough in comparison to traditional survey methods. “We measure real emotions and authentic reactions,” says Allen, adding that “GfK MarketBuilder Voice marks a real change in consumer research.”

Which product really moves consumers? And which one leaves them cold?

This is all the more crucial as emotional qualities become increasingly important in the vast sea of products and information. Only brands and products that truly move consumers can stand out and survive in the mass of innovations. But which qualities ensure that products move consumers in the right way? In contrast, which facets of a product or its packaging are irrelevant to consumers? And which features may even disturb them? GfK MarketBuilder Voice enables these (vital) questions to be answered more precisely than ever before.

At least, this is the opinion of big brands and producers who worked with GfK in the pilot phase. For example, a global consumer goods manufacturer used GfK MarketBuilder Voice to evaluate consumers’ unfiltered impressions of new personal care products. The feedback obtained in this way was used to further develop products that are now being tested on the market in their optimized form. And a breakfast cereal manufacturer would also like to use voice analytics in the future to record the feelings of children and teenagers, target groups that are not as experienced in formulating their preferences as adults.

In this way, GfK MarketBuilder Voice can help brand managers and consumer goods manufacturers to form strong connections with customers and their emotions. This dialogue inevitably leads to greater insights, a deeper understanding of consumers and sounder decisions. At the end of such an exchange, you are left with products and services that appeal to consumers’ emotions, so that they can actually say “I love it” – and really mean it.