Portland Marketing Analytics (PortMA) | Portland, Maine

Can Social Media be a Tangible Tool for Market Research?

Can Social Media be a Tangible Tool for Market Research?We are witnessing an increasing impact of political beliefs affecting consumer behaviors. Of course, boycotts of brands aren’t new, but the speed at which they can occur is. If you follow Twitter, you have probably heard of boycotts and protests against companies like Target, SodaStream, and New Balance. More recently, and closest to Maine’s heart, is L.L Bean. Consumers now have the power to band together, transcending traditional barriers to banding together against a brand.

It seems there is a plethora of beliefs that offered as motivations for a brand boycott. Consumers who boycott now believe that their action will have real consequences felt by the target of said boycott. The implications for market research are numerous and better suited for the next great American novel.

Let’s tease out one of the strands.

One possible tangible implication for market research is that social media may become more valuable and ripe for data mining. How regular individuals feel about a political decision and a product represents the antithesis of their beliefs is arguably one of the most revealing sources.In addition, who knows what it might mean in terms of data collection, methodology, findings, and translation in terms of actionable takeaways for clients? Detractors of social media argue that it’s not a legitimate source of data because there are too many variables. Social media content changes on a whim and without control.

In addition, who knows what it might mean in terms of data collection, methodology, findings, and translation in terms of actionable takeaways for clients? Detractors of social media argue that it’s not a legitimate source of data because there are too many variables. Social media content changes on a whim and without control.

On the flip side

Ironically, much of social media is rich in content if you know how to assess arguments and legitimacy of sources. It seems like our society, whether virtual or physical, isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Just get over pining for the good old days. So, why not lean into this new reality and see what we can learn from it? My guess is clients will continue to gravitate more towards research that reveals who their consumers are. It is possible that deeply-held beliefs driving consumer choice might be best revealed, gathered, and understood, organically in the moment.

In conclusion, if we can adapt, whilst maintaining the integrity of our research, our results could be more actionable.  And there’s no telling what the future holds.

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