Knowing better what the consumer needs is the first step in being able to design products that meet those needs. Consumer research is thus a science in its own right. At P&G, consumer research experts use a broad array of techniques with the ultimate objective of collecting information that will be helpful for product development. In essence, the research falls into one of two broad categories: quantitative (large amounts of data collected over large surveys) or qualitative (in-depth interviews or analyses). Within each category, different techniques may be used depending on which one best suits the research objective.
  • Qualitative Research

    Qualitative research is used to generate ideas. It involves small groups of people, and requires in-depth interaction between the researcher and the participants.
    • Focus Group Discussions

      This is a common technique for exploring ideas and making initial evaluations. A relatively small group of people (6-12) is brought together and asked to talk about certain topics. The advantage of the group interaction is that people can build on one another's ideas and comments.
    • In-Home Visits

      People who use the product are interviewed at home. They are asked questions about the task they use the product for, their desired result, how they judge the result and which improvements they would like made in the product performance. Being in the home provides an opportunity to understand the actual conditions under which the task is performed and what the constraints are from the user's point of view.
    • In-Context Visits

      People who use the product are interviewed while they are performing the task or using the product. The task may be anything related to the product, such as laundering, showering or shampooing. This type of research provides valuable insight into the details of how people use a product, how they judge the end result, and which improvements they desire.
    • In-Store Interviews

      One-on-one interviews with customers while they shop allow us to better understand how the actual purchase decisions are made at the point of sale.
  • Quantitative Research

    Qualitative research is used to generate ideas. It involves small groups of people, and requires in-depth interaction between the researcher and the participants.
    • Habits and Practices

      This requires large-scale studies. Respondents are asked to keep written records of the details of product usage for an extended period of time by making hand-written notes in a product diary or by completing a diary on the computer.
    • Blind Tests

      Blind tests are product usage tests in which a new or upgraded product is given to participants without letting them know the brand of the product. The benchmark is either the current product or the key competitor's product.
    • Concept and Use Test

      People are first presented with the product or brand's concept (which will later be the basis for advertising) and then given the product for usage. This helps us learn if the product delivers as promised and whether the whole consumer proposition (including packaging, artworks and pricing) is appealing.
    • Quality Monitoring

      This is testing done to evaluate whether a product as purchased meets both consumer requirements and product design criteria.

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Illustrations from P&G's Science-in-the-Box website can be used freely for educational, non-commercial purposes provided that the source will be published as follows: "Obtained from www.scienceinthebox.com (P&G website)"

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