GUEST POST BY REBECCA OF PINK IMPERFECTION
Today we are all hosts to the consumers we serve—via websites, social media, pop-up stores and events. But how often do you actually have lunch with them or use the product together to better understand their lives and how your product fits into it? Why have they chosen you? Would they recommend your product or service to their best friend and family?
Getting to know your consumers on this level is what I call a consumer immersion -- where you go really deep with a small group to get insights about what is great, or not so great, about your brand.
WHY HOST A CONSUMER IMMERSION?
learn what you should never change /
Deeply understand what consumers value most about your product or service so that you never give up what is most important to your core tribe of consumers as you grow.
When I was working on Snuggle Fabric softener, we updated packaging and moved away from a physical stuffed animal to a computer-generated teddy bear. Big mistake! We hadn’t realized just how important that fur look was to consumers until after we made the change and then had to go back and fix it.
generate ideas for what to change to keep the product fresh /
While this sounds contradictory to the first reason for having the immersion, it isn’t.
Consumer immersions give you ideas for what to improve as well as help you prioritizing what should be done first, second and so on.
When we were building the Rit Studio website for consumers to share their projects, we did not have an exhaustive list of all the tools folks used when they were dyeing. Thanks to consumer insight, we realized we needed to understand all things that our “Ritsters” were using and add them to the project posting process. Not a big deal to fix, but a gigantic improvement to community satisfaction.
THERE ARE FOUR BASIC STEPS TO CONSUMER IMMERSION:
1. What do you want to learn?
The more specific you are about what you want to learn the better, but if this is your first one, just getting a personal connection for the “whole” consumer is fine too.
2. Where to have your immersion?
For general learning I recommend lunch or drinks at a local hang out where you can chat in a casual manner. An informal setting makes conversations easy and real so you get a holistic view of your consumers. If you want to go into more depth about how consumers use your product, set up an immersion where you use the product together like:
- Kids snacking product / meet a group of moms at the playground with their children and host the play date with products for the kids and moms to taste.
- Crafting product / I hosted a party at Shapeways where consumers came to our offices and made jewelry on our website. It was unbelievably enlightening to see how consumers really used our website vs. how we thought they used it.
Always create an opportunity for consumers to use your product in as “real” a way as possible.
Once we hosted consumers in a laundromat and my consumer used SEVEN dryer sheets for a single load to make sure her sheets smelled amazing. I would never have guessed there was high consumption use on that level.
You can also go shopping together – from Walmart to Tiffany’s – to experience the store, and your product’s placement in it, through their eyes.
3. How to get consumers there?
Invite consumers to your immersion through your email list, social media, or meetup.com. Typically immersions work best with 3-8 consumers plus you and a few others in your company. Be sure the invite has a clear start and end time. This helps people know what they are committing to and it also helps end the event in case you have a straggler that just wants to keep talking. It happens more than you think!
On the day itself, get to your location early because consumers often show up early. Have name tags for everyone, and if you’re having lunch or drinks at a restaurant, let the host and waitstaff know what you are doing in advance. Prep some conversation starters to get the immersion going but then don’t be wed to them, because the best part of the immersion is seeing where the consumer conversation takes you.
Typically, consumers are happy to get together and give feedback for free. You just pay for the lunch, drinks or the samples you bring to the event. Use this as an opportunity to get their emails and send them a personal thank you after the event.
Appreciation is usually what folks value most.
This also gives you a way to follow up with additional questions as well as share when new things are coming to market.
4. Incorporate the consumer immersion into business plans.
- ORGANIZE THE FEEDBACK: The day after your immersion, set aside an hour to review your question going into the immersion and what you learned around this topic.
After you have assessed all the feedback to your original question, acknowledge anything else you learned. A simple way to organize consumer feedback is to group their comments a things to:
- Stop doing
- Start doing
- Keep doing
- VALUE THE FEEDBACK: What is the $ value to your business if you stop, start, or keep doing anything on these lists. For instance: “If I add more tools to the drop down menu for Rit Studio projects, more consumers will be successful at posting repeat projects. With more success, I could get 10% more sales.” You are often guessing, but your intuition is often pretty spot on. By giving each activity a value to the business, it will help you prioritize what you do next.
- TIMELINE THE FEEDBACK: How long and how many resources will it take to do the top five most valuable items on your list? Determine what you can do today, this week and what you will need to start now to have for the future. Having both short term and long term projects gives your product the best chance for a sustainable growth trajectory.
Keep these immersions simple and host them often. It will guarantee you never lose sight of who you’re serving and let your consumer’s voice lead the way.
Have questions or want help planning your next consumer immersion? Give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebecca is a marketing executive that has championed the consumer voice for over 20+ years in consumer package goods, services and even 3d printing businesses! She started her marketing career at Ogivly & Mather Advertising and Unilever Home and Personal Care where she championed consumers in a wide range of brands. From using Brut fragrances sold at Walmart for $5.00 and to launching Faberge fine fragrances sold in Neiman Marcus for $5000!
Regardless of the retail price, understanding her consumers has been the key to driving organic growth in each business. Rebecca has also used this process to help real estate firms, pet flea & tick treatments, laundry detergent and community engagement at her local YMCA. From billion dollar brands to tech startups aspiring to becoming a billion dollar brand, Rebecca is passionate to champion the consumer’s voice as the driving force leading the growth agenda. Currently residing in Greenwich, CT. Rebecca is now helping multiple businesses connect with consumers, build out their brand stories and innovation plans as well as helping build team cultures dedicated to rapid organic growth through her consulting firm, Pink Imperfection.