The benefits of market sensing during a pandemic

Market sensing research

The pandemic has changed customers and everything we know about them. If you’re looking to uncover new customer and market insights to drive post-crisis strategy and growth, consider conducting a market sensing study.

What is market sensing?

Market sensing is a research technique that seeks to understand consumer sentiment and the emotions that drive consumer behavior and decisions. By understanding social contexts, underlying principles, values, and other external market factors influencing their behavior, it can enable more powerful marketing strategies.

Market sensing versus market research

While traditional research methods like surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews are commonly used for market research, they can miss important indicators of prevailing customer sentiment. Combining them with newer research approaches, such as social listening, can help reveal hidden meaning in their conversations. This offers marketers a deeper understanding of why customers behave in a certain way and predict future outcomes more accurately.

Nigel Piercy, professor of marketing and strategy at Warwick Business School, explains that the key difference lies in the focus of the study: market sensing focuses primarily on the customer perspective, while market research is more oriented towards the company’s perspective.

How do firms stand to gain by conducting market sensing studies in the time of the coronavirus? Read on to find out.

Establish an emotional connect with consumers 

The pandemic has caused consumers to shift their spending priorities. They are adopting new behaviors – researching more, spending less, discovering and trying new brands. With so much changed, the need for improving brand-consumer connect has never been stronger. Conducting a market sensing study can reveal finer details about consumer mindsets, for example, factors that bring them a sense of comfort, to inform decisions around brand personality, tone-of-voice, customer experience, among others.

Market sensing methodologies include alternative research approaches. Social listening, for instance, is a method that computes customer response on social media platforms. Ethnographic market research is another alternative research method that engages in a study of cultural trends, lifestyle choices and the relevance of the social context of consumer segments. Data obtained through these approaches, helps companies and brands understand consumer emotions and build stronger customer relationships.

Increased adaptability and flexibility to rapidly changing market conditions 

Organizations need to reinvent their marketing strategies to meet new consumer needs and behavioral shifts. Marketing strategies that have worked in the past won’t necessarily work in the post-COVID world. For instance, buyer incentives like promotional offers and discounts on products will not work in the same way as they did in the past.

Companies will have to adapt to the rapidly-shifting market conditions and shape their strategies to meet the needs of the more perceptive and at-home consumer. Studying consumer habits through the emotive and perceptive tools of market sensing helps determine why consumers choose specific brands over others and the factors that drive their decision.  

This timely categorization and data collection enable greater brand flexibility and adaptability. A cumulative study of the impact of both external and internal factors impacting consumer behavioral patterns leads to better market positioning and responsiveness. With shock-driven purchasing pattern shifts, it is essential to gauge which societal trends are temporary and which will result in more permanent consumption patterns.

Develop messages that resonate for advertising and promotions

For your messages to cut through the clutter and drive positive outcomes, a close understanding of customer contexts is crucial. This includes finding out customer pain-points, sentiment, attitudes, among other purchase drivers for increased relevancy and engagement. Market sensing endows greater clarity about customer perspectives for meeting these objectives.

Insights drawn from a market sensing study can give marketers more control over how to produce marketing messages that stick. Furthermore, it can be used to determine which marketing channels will drive the highest engagement among target audiences or the kind of information they seek through different stages in the customer journey to help marketers in their personalization efforts. 

Establish differentiation

Crisis situations generate new needs and trends that can change the market landscape. Businesses that identify and act upon these signals early-on are better positioned to win market share. But without deep market insight, businesses tend to make decisions based on guesswork or, worse, mimic their competitors. The ones that use this time to gather data-driven consumer insights will uncover opportunities for differentiation required for attaining market leadership.

Understand broader societal shifts 

There are many direct and indirect ramifications of the pandemic that will have long-term effects on the market. For instance, research suggests that the US is likely to exhibit less individualistic patterns post the pandemic. A market sensing study can reveal such societal shifts to guide future business strategies.

At the individual level, it has prompted a change in the way people view work and family life balance and introspect on the things they value most. These societal shifts will play a significant role in the way customers choose products and services. Understanding these shifts and their effect on customer decision-making is key to enabling better strategies for future growth.

With companies striving to mobilize responses in an unpredictable and uncertain market, it is essential to identify and employ alternate research methods, such as market sensing. This will help firms to dig deeper, beyond surface-level statistics, into consumer emotions and larger societal shifts to enable better preparedness across the organization.  

Netscribes offers a host of market research solutions, including market sensing, that leverage quantitative and qualitative data, and social media signals. Contact us to know more about our market sensing capabilities.

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