Understanding how consumers see market
A leading manufacturer of dairy drinks was looking to optimise its position in the Chocolate Milks market. They had been receiving consumer complaints but were unable to understand the issue that consumers were unhappy with and hence rectify the problem. Their concern was increased by the launch of a number of new brands into the Chocolate Milk sector with a consequent impact on market share.
Discussions with the client identified four main areas of concern:
- What distinguished their product from other Chocolate Milk drinks?
- What attributes did consumers associate with their product?
- How to monitor these attributes as part of a Quality Assurance function?
- How to communicate their product benefits to the consumer.
It was evident that a clear understanding of the sector from the consumer's perspective was key to answering these questions.
What We Did
We used a group of 50 Chocolate Milk consumers to generate a vocabulary that described chocolate milk and using this vocabulary asked the consumers to create a perceptual map of the Chocolate Milk market. Vocabulary was generated by asking each consumer to compare four triads of three beverages and to describe the appearance, aroma flavour and mouthfeel attributes they associated with each group. These attributes were recorded, arranged in order and transferred to a consumer ballot. The following day, each consumers rated the 12 beverages using his or her own list of attributes. The client's own Quality Assurance sensory panel also profiled the same 12 products.
What We Found
Using a Generalised Procrustes Analysis, a consumer-based map of the Chocolate Milks was produced and consumer terms then superimposed onto the plots. We then selected which consumer terms to include on the plot taking account of:
- The most frequently used words.
- The words that were used consistently by consumers
- How these terms correlated with what people liked and/or disliked about the drinks
Finally we took the data produced by the client's sensory panel and correlated it into the consensus consumer plot.
The client gained a clear picture of how consumers differentiated the Chocolate Milks market and the words that they used to describe product differences. The team was able to see the position of their product in relation to competitors, understand its distinguishing features and know how to communicate these features to the consumer in words that he or she would relate to.
Moreover, relating the consumer terms to the language of the in-house Q.A. sensory panels made interpreting Customer Complaints so much easier and ensured that Q.A. focused on monitoring the consumer critical attributes in the future.