This chapter describes market research tools commonly used to gain insights into target audiences.2 These tools include focus groups, individual in-depth interviews, central location intercept interviews, theater-style pretests, and surveys. Diaries and activity logs,
program, but that information won’t do much good if it isn’t used. Other chapters in this manual explain when and how to incorporate your results into program planning and development. (In particular, see Chapter 2: Planning Your Counter-Marketing Program, Chapter 4: Reaching Specific Populations, and
gatekeeper reviews, and readability testing are
Chapter 7: Advertising.)
Some tools are better suited for certain pur- poses than others, so most programs use a combination of methods. For example, focus groups with members of your target audience can help you learn which approaches, mes-
Market research generally isn’t something you can do on your own. Your program could stray off course if you use the wrong method, use
the methods incorrectl , recruit the wrong type or number of participants, or misinterpret
sages, and channels are most likely to succeed
with that audience. The focus groups could be augmented with individual in-depth inter- views to probe more deeply into motivations, particularly if the issues are controversial or very personal or if the audience members are influenced heavily by their peers. Messages and materials might be tested through central location intercept interviews, in which respondents are recruited and interviewed at malls or other public settings, or through theater-style pretests, which use a simulated television-viewing environment to replicate a real-life viewing experience. Use of multiple tools can help confirm the validity of your findings.
Regardless of the tools you use, be sure to apply the results. Market research can provide critical data at various stages of your
results. Unless you have the appropriate skills and experience, do-it-yourself market research can yield the same kinds of results as do-it- yourself plumbing. This chapter is designed to give you background on methods and tech- niques that will help you work with market research professionals. However, don’t turn over complete control of the research to your ad agency or market research firm. You need to be involved in every step of the process.
The Importance of Market Research
Sometimes program managers want to eliminate market research to cut costs, especially when the budget is tight. However,
spending some money on market research up front can save your program money in the long run. The initial expenditure can help ensure that the program elements are likely to
2 Some of the research methods described here may require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. Nearly all government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations require an assessment of the impact on human subjects involved in qualitative and quantitative research, including the protection of collected data. Some data collection efforts are exempt from IRB approval. For each research project undertaken, it is recommended that you consult the IRB expert in your organization.
Chapter 3: Gaining and Using Target Audience Insights