Selling consumer goods in the U.S. is one thing. But selling to an international audience is quite another, in part because you can’t reliably expect a one-to-one correlation in audience make-up, attitudes, habits, or buying behaviors between your home audience and the international one. This leaves product, sales, and marketing teams with a steep challenge: they need to research everything they can about their international target audience and market before they can expect success.
A U.S. consumer goods manufacturer faced such a challenge. The manufacturer’s product team was looking to gain the business of a major retailer in Europe to be their global supplier of oral care products. In order to secure a business partnership with the retailer, the product team needed to know more about their potential European audience to demonstrate their expertise in both the oral care category and the international market. It was evident the product team needed to do more research, but they had a tight timeline and a small budget to work with.
When days, not weeks or months, count, agility is key. So finding a solution that could net results quickly was a priority for the manufacturer. But first the product team needed to really think through the challenge and test some theories.
The challenge in detail
Going into the research, the product team had a hypothesis: People who have previously purchased or used oral care products in Europe are likely to seek out a product very similar to what they’re already familiar with.
But the team had concerns because their product was not similar to the products that were currently offered in the region. Both the appearance and functionality of the manufacturer’s product were different than the other products, and the team needed to be sure European consumers wouldn’t be apprehensive about their product’s efficacy and benefits.
Specifically, the manufacturer’s product team needed to explore and understand the following attitudes and behaviors among the European audience:
- Oral care products purchased and reasons why
- Location of purchase and reasons why
- Reasons for or against shopping at a major retailer for oral care products
- Ranking of claims
The research and solution
The manufacturer’s product team worked with GutCheck to delve into the research, with the GutCheck team firing up an online Agile Attitudes & Usage™ study. An Agile A&U is a quantitative study with up to 20 questions that are used to explore consumer attitudes, usages, habits, practices, and behaviors.
In this case, the study set out to answer two key questions:
- How can the major European retailer attract consumers who are already accustomed to certain brands and products?
- What can the retailer offer and/or what messaging can they use in order to attract these customers?
The survey clicks were balanced to population-level data on age, gender, and region to ensure a natural fallout of the sample, with a total of 300 consumers included in the research.
The manufacturer’s market research manager on the consumer products team confirmed that exploring attitudes and usage was the right direction: “Agile A&U was a good fit for us. Many times, we’re trying to get business or distribution and we need to show the value of understanding the shopper we’re servicing.”
Within just 10 days, the product team gained several key consumer insights they were able to share with the sales and marketing teams and the retailer:
- When shopping for oral care products, consumers were looking for a certain kind of store experience and selection of products.
- Product recommendations from doctors or friends and family were much more important for one subgroup than the other.
- One subgroup of consumers was significantly more likely than the other to consider the major retailer for oral care products.
- There were two brands both consumer subgroups would consider purchasing.
In addition to these findings, the product team was able to prove its offering did, in fact, fit the buying profile of the target audience. The results helped the team get to the bottom of how people were making decisions and what was important to these consumers in the oral care category. Further, the product team was able to use this information in their presentation to the retailer to demonstrate a strong understanding of their European audience so they could build a successful partnership.
“There are initiatives that arise where we need to understand things other than how a consumer responds to a concept, where we need to understand the dynamics of product usage,” the market research manager said. “This research helped us do that, which was the biggest benefit.”
And while learning about their international target audience was the immediate goal, the manufacturer could use agile attitudes and usage studies right here at home to help inform new product development, improve the customer experience, and even guide marketing campaigns.
Here is an example of a recent A&U study we performed on the Smart Home Device industry to give you an idea of the breadth of information these studies can provide.