In many respects, research amongst the public is easier than it is amongst businesses. There is much less variation in the products consumed by the public than there is across different sizes of companies. Furthermore, most consumers can readily be accessed online or through focus groups, which makes consumer market research a good deal cheaper and easier than that amongst businesses.
We are sometimes asked to carry out retail market research as part of a wider study for a client. We also have a sister research company – Deep See Research – that specialises in consumer market research.
Our client is a leading retailer of spectacles in Japan. It wanted to introduce its innovative designs to the West. We were challenged with finding out whether the concept they had in mind would be acceptable.
We carried out 1,000 online interviews with members of the public who wear glasses. An online interview is an ideal opportunity to show people different styles of glasses and to find out their views on which they prefer. We received a very positive response to the designs, which led to a successful launch.
A major trade and DIY retailer wished to improve its online sales conversion rate by conducting a thorough, research-driven audit and benchmark of website usability.
B2B International designed and executed an annual website usability audit, conducted over a 4 year period. We recruited trade and DIY audiences across in 4 areas of the UK to take part in a series of online buying exercises on our client’s website and on the web stores of its principal competitors.
As part of the recruitment process, respondents were asked to provide important behavioural information about their shopping habits within the home improvement category. Respondents fed back information about their online shopping experiences using a series of questionnaires and diary-type exercises. A combination of quantitative and highly detailed qualitative feedback was collected.
Drawing on insights related to customer behaviours, our client was able to anticipate and prioritise the development of new functionality, such as the development of click and collect facilities, an online ‘inspiration finder’ and estimating tools. In addition to this, every wave of the research identified a detailed list of critical usability improvements. User perceptions of the website improved markedly, moving from number 4 website for usability in the category to being among the best rated overall. Improvements in usability were also reflected in conversions and online sales, which saw double-digit growth across the period of the research programme.
Many businesses need to sell through “retail channels” such as distributors, builders’ merchants, online merchants etc. Researching these retailers is a frequent activity at B2B International. Our client is a major manufacturer of containers and storage devices sold through distributors and catalogers. Research was commissioned to understand needs and unmet needs at every level of the value chain.
We carried out interviews with the largest distributors and catalogue companies in the US. These highly focused interviews were one-to-one and in depth. Respondents were senior buyers and could talk to us about what determines the products they stock and sell. We complemented this retail market research with end-user interviews with people who use storage containers and bins in their workplace.
This is a market that historically has been supplied through retail channels. Following the research it became clear that there is an opportunity to sell the products direct though this required sensitively handling of current distributors. It is also a market sensitive to innovation which became a priority for driving sales and differentiating the brand.