Q&A with a client-side researcher

Editor's note: If you're an end-client researcher and interested in participating in a Q&A with Quirk's, please e-mail me at emilyk@quirks.com.

What led you to a career in consumer insights? 

I’ve always been curious about consumer behavior and why people make one choice over another – in particular how these decision-making processes can have such significant business impacts. 

The dynamic nature of the field keeps it interesting – it's constantly evolving with advancements in technology and new methodologies emerging to help answer pressing business questions.

I also enjoy the collaborative nature of the role, working closely with various stakeholders in the business to integrate consumer insights (CI) and market research best practices to improve and enable strategic decisions. 

Could you share an example of the role consumer insight plays when bringing a food product from concept to market-ready item? 

The consumer insights team is involved at multiple touchpoints as a product moves from an idea to a concept and then to a market-ready item. We are constantly collaborating with cross-functional teams throughout the process.

While it can vary by certain products and initiatives, here’s a general idea of how the CI team is involved through this process:

Idea generation – the CI team will analyze the competitive landscape, conducting research and working with syndicated data partners to identify trends and need states.

Concept testing – the CI team will conduct concept testing, where a wide range of potential new menu items are developed and put in front of participants in an online environment. Participants will evaluate an image and description and provide feedback across a variety of measures. This data is analyzed, compared to historical benchmarks and cut by various user groups to determine which concepts make it to the next phase.

Central location testing – the product then moves into central location testing where the CI team will work with the culinary team to serve the test products, typically four to six total, to a large group of participants who will taste the products and provide feedback. The CI team will develop and field a questionnaire using our sensory and consumer research software to ask participants a variety of Likert, JAR and hedonic scale questions. The CI team will also run a penalty analysis on each product to identify factors that lead to the greatest reduction in overall liking. We’ll then discuss results with the product development and brand marketing teams to determine how to optimize a certain item or move it into a market test. 

Market testing and buyer reaction studies – the potential menu item(s) then enter the market testing phase where the CI team conducts a buyer reaction study to gather consumer opinions of the product in a real-world environment. This feedback is a critical component when deciding to move this item to a national promotion, or if it needs to be optimized.