Are sales of your new pet product or service soft and you don’t know why? Perhaps you have a pretty good idea but everyone on the management team thinks differently. You need some answers and a re-tooled strategy but you’re not sure where to go. A relatively small qualitative research project can really help turn your business problem around.
Small-scale qualitative market research could provide answers to your new pet business problem.
We recently worked with an entrepreneur that had partnered with a large distributor to launch a new product. Sales were not materializing and confidence in the distributor was falling fast but they didn’t know what to do with the limited budget available. Everyday they tinkered at the edges of their pet business problem, was another day lost on the road to meeting the sales goal.
Even a small number of personal interviews can provide tremendous insights to help identify business issues and make meaningful changes.
We put together a research plan to address their pet business problem that included 25 one-on-one telephone interviews. We started with internal stakeholders to make sure we understood the business and to get the benefit of their experience. We then moved on to sales people – those who had success in the field and those who had not. Finally we ended with the customers themselves. In this case we professionally recruited customers we felt were the highest potential, however; these projects work well with current customers (a list you already have and it saves the expense of the professional recruit).
Telephone is a great tool for these types of interviews for a couple of reasons. First, it is easy to reach research respondents in any geography and time zone. Respondents appreciate being interviewed when it is convenient for them so response rates go up. Secondly, the interviews are personal and free from group bias. Respondents are more comfortable talking about sensitive subjects over the telephone versus within a focus group setting. Lastly, they’re relatively fast and easy to schedule. Twenty five interviews can be scheduled and conducted within a 3 week time frame with no expensive travel.
At every step of the way, we are listening for barriers to sales because that is the root of your pet business problem.
Is there enough potential within this category for a product with these benefits, at this price, marketed and distributed in this manner? In the project example noted above, we determined that there was only moderate interest in their new pet business model and the primary barriers were a perceived lack of need, a fear that the new product won’t deliver what it promised and an overall fear of change. We recommended that they narrow their target audience and broaden their product offering. It was critical that these entrepreneurs back up and establish more third party credibility, re-focus on B-to-B marketing and lower some key pricing barriers. Their distributor needed to go as well.
How can you rewrite a pet business go to market strategy on only 25 interviews?
It’s true that 25 qualitative interviews is not a robust sample from which to make major decisions. The $120K project recommended by an agency can give you a deeper understanding and much higher levels of confidence, however, if a new pet business can’t afford that level of research, they can’t afford it.
Small-scale qualitative research can provide enough insight for a trained professional to come out with quality recommendations.
It doesn’t sound very difficult to talk to sales and customers – why can’t you do this yourself? You are too close to your business, your sales people and customers won’t be totally honest with you and you’re going to leave some key questions unasked. A professional market researcher, with deep marketing and pet industry background, can uncover insights that you won’t and, she’ll have an outsider’s perspective on how things might be done differently.
If you have a pet business problem, some professional help is not necessarily outside your means. A small-scale market research project can be done for less than $10K, depending upon the scope of the recruit. Stop worrying and get a second opinion.