New methods of marketing research – anthropological research
Today’s global market is consumer-oriented like never before. The century of mass production of standard goods and services is replaced by the century of ever-increasing product individualization. Think of personalized beverage bottles, computers that can be ordered to meet the most demanding personal requirements, numerous designer brands for individual tailoring, personalized learning paths for online courses and an incredible variety of books, dishes, music, games and any other goods for every taste. Of course, NGO programs also become more specific. That is why anthropological studies are required.

Together with the increased orientation of production towards the consumer, sociological research methods that are suitable for solving such problems are changing. Remember how to conduct marketing research? A sample of 500-1500 respondents is taken. The bigger, the better. They are asked the same questions. Then, using statistical methods, we process them and confirm or refute the initial hypothesis.

What are anthropological studies for?
Please, don’t be scared. These methods are not canceled. They are very necessary to assess the volume of the market and the demand for services ang goods, as well as to predict trends.

However, today other types of research came to their aid – anthropological. They are focused on identifying the most profound and personal experiences of a person from using a product or service.

Imagine a situation that in a sociological survey you found out that your consumers in the mass do not really like the packaging of your goods. For example, they rated it at 3 on a 10-point scale. But what to do next? Obviously, change the packaging. But which way? Make it more compact, more rustling, washable, reusable?

Of course, you can and should test. But when you have a million variants of a product or service that you need to check, making test samples and introducing it to the market is very expensive, you really want to narrow down the range of choices. For this, anthropological studies may be useful.

Basics of anthropological research
These types of analysis are in-depth interviews. It is desirable that the script of this interview is prepared by a psychologist. The goal is to identify the consumer’s feelings about using a product, the essence of his or her motivation to use or not to use a service or a product, the deepest fears and needs associated with a product. After all, it may turn out that bad packaging, although it is not appreciated by consumers, does not significantly affect sales, and, for example, taste, rated at 8 out of 10, with a change can give a significant increase of buyers.

During the interview, you need to find out: what impression does the consumer have after appearance of a product, touching, unpacking, using in different situations? What does the consumer want and fear?

An example of anthropological research
For example, a woman evaluates a bag. First, she evaluates its appearance. Yes, the bag is beautiful. But the woman fears that the bag will not suit her face or will not fit her wardrobe. Then, she touches her. Is it nice or not? The material is good. But there is a fear: what if she scratches it? She appreciates the convenience. Handles can be interchanged and she can carry the bag as a backpack or as a business. But it is inconvenient to change them. It is not clear how to fasten. In addition, she can spoil the manicure. Pockets and compartments are comfortable. A customer needs a place for cosmetics, for documents, for money, for a phone and other things. However, the bag is not good for A4 sheet, which means that it is not very convenient to go to work with it. As for storage, the customer reported that her wardrobe is small, so she is uncomfortable with storing large bags. Folding this bag in half is impossible. She is readu to suffer a little, but for ladies this is not a fundamental question.

How is the anthropological study
Such research requires time consuming. Therefore, it is impossible to hold it for 1000 people, and it is difficult to process such results, because there are human sensations that are difficult to put into standard compact questionnaires and statistically compare. Part of the answers a person can give in words. Indeed, in this situation, it is important for us not just to know how a person evaluates the quality of the material by 3 or 9 points. It is important to understand what exactly suits or does not suit in this product.

Such surveys can be conducted with a person even more than once. After all, he or she can come to a real store next day in a completely different mood. Therefore, for an anthropological study, a sample of only 10-15 people is considered normal. It will not allow you to identify global market trends, but will help to make a conclusion about the individual characteristics of the product and the best way to change them.

Anthropological research methods
Methods of anthropological research may be different. One of the classical is in-depth interview, when we interview participants on a pre-prepared questionnaire. A good method is the included observation method. In this situation, we observe the real buyer / user in the process of choosing or using the product. Of course, it is not always possible to track the consumer after the acquisition. But sometimes it is still possible: for example, if he returns to you again or in the process of technical support. Well, if your product is an online service, you can even track it automatically there.

The third method is visual anthropology. It is very useful to make a photo or video fixation of the process of buying or using a product. In this situation psychologists are able to track the buyer’s mimicry and gestures and separate his or her true motives from those shown. And they often differ.

A very interesting and modern method is the analysis of digital traces. On the Internet, we can track not only reviews about a product (remember: they are usually left in a very bad mood or your competitors are on order). Look, whether users post photos with your product consciously or unconsciously in social networks, what is the situation in the photo. Do users check-in at your organization? What do they write at the same time?Such an analysis will give you a lot of useful information.

The results of anthropological research
As a result of the research, you can draw the following conclusions: what kind of product it is and who uses it (socio-cultural product profile), how the product is arranged and how it is used (anthropological product profile), what different categories of users need, what values ​​they have.

Plan for anthropological research
Thus, the research plan will actually be as follows:

  1. The hypothesis of the research is determined : what fact needs to be confirmed or disproved (the construction of new hypotheses can also be the result of research)?
  2. Feedback channels are built: how will we receive information from consumers?
  3. We define the metric and the goal – even in a subjective anthropological study, it is necessary to determine which indicator and in what quantity will refute or confirm the hypothesis.
  4. We do more than one study – the market changes, people and moods change, seasons, competitors also change.
  5. We make A / B versions test based on research results.
  6. We realize that we can not change the habits of people – we can only adjust our goods for people.