Surveying the Target Consumer: How Many is Enough?
by Mike Poirier
Our team presented a comprehensive experiential marketing program recap to a spirits industry client recently. The program had three major research objectives that I’ve outlined in a previous post. The objective that caught the most attention was “reach the right consumer.” Each brand we research targets a specific consumer profile based on specific demographic and psychographic criteria, so we measure what percentage of consumers surveyed meet each brand’s said criteria.
We spent some time discussing an interesting question that was brought up during the presentation:
Why aren’t we surveying just the target consumer?
That’s a valid question. If the brand has defined a specific consumer, shouldn’t the strategy revolve around marketing toward that target? Certainly. But it’s also beneficial to reach consumers outside the target criteria for a basis for comparison. How can you draw valid conclusions about the target consumer without knowing how their attitude and behavior differs from any other consumer?
This particular program markets several different spirits brands. Each one has a unique consumer target profile, so we measure how frequently the brand team reached the target consumer at the events they activated.
How many target consumers are enough to survey?
Here’s an example. Let’s say “Joe” is the consumer target profile for “Brand A” and, for simplicity’s sake, he fits the following criteria: Male, Age 28 to 32
The brand ambassadors are instructed to engage Joe at the events they run, which makes sense, because prior research suggests Joe is more likely than other consumers to purchase the product.
Let’s say, as we measure the progress of the program, the exit survey results indicate that the teams reached Joe 50% of the time, meaning the other consumers reached did not fit the Brand A’s target profile.
Is this a problem? Not from a research perspective. 50% indicates that the brand teams are actively engaging the target consumer, and that the research likely has a valid sample size for hypothesis testing.
Being able to measure the impact of the event experience on Joe’s attitude and behavior provides insight into the preferences of the target consumer, but it’s just as important to analyze the other 50% of visiting consumers, to be able to compare Joe to the rest of the population.
What conclusions can you draw from the target consumer?
If Joe is more likely than other consumers to purchase Brand A in the future, then we can conclude that the event experience is having a positive impact on the target consumer’s behavior. Therefore, we can recommend that the teams engage Joe more frequently to maximize purchase intent.
If Joe is equally likely as anyone else to purchase, then that provides us an opportunity to investigate the events more closely. Perhaps the teams distributed cocktail samples that were a huge hit with everyone. Maybe Joe already purchases Brand A on a regular basis, so the event experience has less of an impact on changing his behavior.
These are just some of the insights we can gain by monitoring consumer targeting to bring added value to the program.