How Market Research Can Build Consumer Loyalty

How Market Research Can Build Consumer Loyalty

Consumer loyalty is the principal objective of any business, a purpose more that should be more sought after than sales alone. This is because consumer loyalty is the main driver behind repeat sales.

This end cannot be reached overnight and to the surprise of many brands, it cannot be reached simply with a quality product. Instead, it takes several factors to build consumer loyalty. 

This article explores consumer loyalty, why it is crucial, how it can benefit your business and mainly, how market research can help you achieve it. 

Defining Consumer Loyalty

Consumer loyalty can be defined in several ways, some are more specific than others. While it may sound self-explanatory, for the purposes of market research, this concept is specifically defined as: the measure of a customer’s likelihood to patronize a business repeatedly. 

As the name suggests, this phenomenon stems from a feeling of loyalty to a brand, the kind that chiefly results from product satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and a good customer experience (CX). However, there are many other aspects that play a role in consumer loyalty.

These can be difficult to obtain as brands cannot fulfill all of their customers’ wishes. They certainly cannot achieve this feat if they do not know all of their customers’ pains, needs and concerns.

This is where market research comes into play. You can conduct market research in a number of ways. 

What Brands Gain from Consumer Loyalty

The goal of consumer loyalty is crucial to obtain and not just for the evident reasons. There are key facts of statistical importance that brands need to consider.

Firstly, customer Loyalty is the main contribution to customer retention. A mere 5% increase in retention raises profits by 25-95%. This is not only because retained customers make repeat purchases, but also because repeat customers spend more money.

Consumer loyalty breeds brand ambassadors, and 83% of consumers will recommend a brand they are loyal to.

Aside from these statics of customer loyalty gains, you ought to know how customer acquisition — the act of gaining new customers measures up to customer loyalty. While acquiring new customers is key to business growth, customer loyalty still reigns supreme in comparison. This is because:

How to Build Customer Loyalty with Market Research

Market research is an umbrella term that covers various methodologies to determine the success of a new product or service through researching one’s target market, competitors and the general state of an industry.

By examining your target market, i.e., customer base, you can learn about its preferences, needs and pain points. Tapping into the minds of your target market will allow you to serve them best, whether it is through new products, product upgrades, online experiences or general CX (customer experience). 

Market research involves using primary and secondary research, that is, self-conducted research and research that has already been conducted and made available, respectively. The following delineates the attributes that foster customer loyalty, along with how market research can build them up.

  1. Usability: Customers need to be reassured of the usability of your products/services. Understanding the ease of use of your offerings is thus crucial to creating customer loyalty. Primary research such as focus groups and surveys reveal the degree of your business’s usability, paving the way for understanding what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Trust: If customers don’t trust your brand for any reason, they will not return for future transactions. To test how you fare with your customers, conducting customer satisfaction surveys, Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys and other customer loyalty surveys. To get a sense of how customers generally view brands in your niche, you can use secondary research like statistics sites, industry reports and blogs in your industry.
  3. Customer Service: A key part of UX, customer service involves any touchpoint in which customers interact with company representatives. This includes leads speaking with sales representatives over the phone, a customer relying on a cashier or sales associate for help in-store, chatting with a rep via a site’s chat or getting phone support. You can use secondary research to get an overview of customer service in your industry via industry sites. You can also conduct secondary research on your competitors for ideas on how to boost your own customer service.
  4. Personalization: Greeting customers by their names on your digital properties is no longer a potent personalization method. Instead, customers are looking for more targeted efforts to show that their unique needs and desires are being met. As such, brands should avoid taking generic approaches in customer messaging and journeys. Instead, brands can use secondary research to see what segments in their target market desire. In order to conduct market segmentation, you are going to need to use surveys. Additionally, to understand your customers at a deeper level, you’ll also need to implement surveys.
  5. Social Media Presence: Social media has allowed brands to create more intimate relationships with customers. Creating social content can pique the interest of existing customers, prompting them to return to your brand at least to browse your social content. This can relieve them of boredom or curiosity, while keeping your brand on their minds. Primary research such as surveys can help you test your social media strategy to see what type of messaging and topics yield the most positive reactions. 

Best Practices to Nurture Customer Loyalty

Developing customer loyalty requires market research and after you’ve gathered a substantial amount of it, it’s time to implement some best practices. You can experiment with the following options to see which tactic works best for growing customer loyalty.

  1. Loyalty rewards programs: an oldie but a goody, this type of program helps both to attract customers and to keep the customers buying from you. This program, like its name implies, rewards your customers for being customers. For example, you can implement a point-based system based on the number of purchases customers make, which will reward customers with a discount, credit or some other benefit when a certain amount of points is reached.
  2. Optimize your digital user experience (UX): We live in the digital age, where many purchases are done online. But it doesn’t end, as window shopping is also done in an online format. Many shoppers browse websites to get a sense of your offerings, so you should ensure your best offers are on display, along with seamless website experiences. Avoid long page load times, messy navigation or time-consuming check-outs. 
  3. Communicate with targeted solutions: Show your customers that you’ve been paying attention by only massaging them with targeted solutions. For example, if they frequent your business for one type of need, focus on those such products. Give suggestions on past purchases and cater to their whims. You can achieve the latter by scrutinizing your customers directly, by way of questionnaires. 
  4. Innovate your products: Product development can be laborious and pricey, but it is well worth it when it comes to customer loyalty. With competition left and right on the internet and in brick-and-mortar shops, consumers will look to brands that provide the best product experiences. As such, you should research your top competitors to see how they’re improving their products. You should also inquire from customers directly, what they would like to see improve from your products/services. 
  5. Hire employees who care: Since customer service is dependent on interactions with employees, you ought to hire carefully by vetting your job applicants. You should also place etiquette and politeness as top qualities for any consumer-facing role. But aside from hiring the best talent, you ought to keep your talent happy. Implementing employee satisfaction surveys will help measure how satisfied your employees are on the job. Employee happiness is sure to relay over to customer interactions.

Market Research: The Constant Giver 

Since market research is concerned with staying in the know constantly on your market, customers and competitors, it is thereby a perennial tool for various business needs. As such, it is more than just a tool, as it entails using various sources of data.

Continually performing market research through both secondary and primary means will ensure you’re ahead of the curve, especially when it concerns consumer loyalty. Let’s face it, no matter how well you improve your product, service and customer experience, you are not a mind reader.

Consumers change their minds and can be swayed by competition instantly, especially in our increasingly digital world of information (think advertisements) overload. Surveys are thereby a vigorous instrument to measure customer satisfaction, calculate glitches, reveal frustrations and much more. You can uncover virtually any aspect of the customer experience through survey research, therefore empowering your business and stimulating customer loyalty. 


Survey Research Methods: A Deep Dive

Survey Research Methods: A Deep Dive

Although survey research methods are just one tactic under the enveloping market research field of study, they too are administered in a number of ways. 

That is because much like market research, there is no single or universal technique when it comes to survey research. Instead, there are various survey research methods, those that only pertain to the survey aspect of market research.

Survey research methods include different sets of classifications, from types of surveys, to data organization and more. It is key to become familiar with all of them to determine which is most suitable for your market research needs. 

This article will navigate all the nuances that pertain to survey research methods.

Surveys for Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research

Market research relies on both primary and secondary research; surveys fall under the former and have several classifications. The first major one conveys the duality within survey research methods: that of quantitative and qualitative research.

Quantitative research surveys: 

Quantitative research involves gathering quantitative, or numerical data. Surveys amass this data by asking questions that quantify attitudes, opinions, feelings and behaviors. The point of this kind of survey research method is to form generalizations. 

Quantitative research surveys therefore use a larger sample size in order to crunch numbers on different issues and variables. This survey research method is highly dependent on using and creating mathematical and statistical data. 

These surveys use this data to identify patterns in a target market, find averages, make predictions and test relationships.

Essentially, this survey research method uses respondents to understand the “what” and “how much” of a studied subject.

Qualitative research surveys:

Qualitative research zeroes in on experiences, ideas and opinions, instead of focusing on statistical or quantitative results. Instead, this survey research method seeks to holistically interpret an issue, occurrence or phenomenon.

As such, qualitative research seeks to perceive an issue in more depth, find the cause of an occurrence, create inferences, find solutions to problems and uncover trends.

This research method is centered around the “what” and even more so, the “why” of a research subject. 

Unlike quantitative research, qualitative research uses a smaller sample size for a deeper understanding of causes, motivations and sentiment. 

This kind of survey research method uses open-ended and exploratory questions in natural environments, in which respondents freely discuss their opinions to help researchers identify the “why” behind an issue.

Understanding the “why” is then used to make decisions on how to resolve the issue or how to improve on an existing productive situation.

Survey Panels Vs Random Sampling

The second main classification of survey research methods is categorized via the sampling pool. There are two main types of sampling pools, i.e., the type of respondents that take part in a survey. 

Market Research Panel: 

A market research panel is a pre-recruited group of survey respondents who have agreed to take part in online surveys. This method is most commonly employed by market research panel companies, which require the panelists to share personal information about themselves. 

This includes the information you’d find at the screener section of a survey tool such as demographics, but can also include behavioral data. The panel can be used for more than one survey; this way is convenient for market researchers who require long-term survey campaigns such as longitudinal surveys

Random Sampling Pool:

A random sampling pool is a group of survey respondents who have not been recruited to take part in a survey. Instead, this method involves, as the name suggests, a random group of participants. They take a survey once they reach a publisher’s website or app, which is triggered by an online survey tool. As such, they take a survey due to their being real-time users on a site or app in which the survey has been launched.

Any business can take this automated approach, which does not require seeking out participants manually, as a market research panel would. Although the pool of respondents has been gathered randomly, the qualifying participants are not random.

This is because the survey software used to launch this survey includes screening questions and demographic requirements that respondents must meet to take the survey. As such, researchers still get the exact kind of participants they seek to survey. This survey research method includes probability and non-probability sampling.

Survey Research Methods Based on Campaign Type & Macro Applications

Survey research methods can be further divided based on the type of macro application (or discipline) you need the data for. They can also be categorized into different campaign types, which can fall under the macro applications, or exist as their own application.  

You should understand these purposes before you choose the proper survey type for your research needs. Here are the major campaigns and applications to base your survey method on:

  • Marketing: A broad term that includes a wide variety of processes to raise awareness and demand in your company, promote it and understand your target market.
  • Advertising: One of the key practices in marketing, advertising refers to communication using overtly sponsored messages to promote or sell a product or service. 
  • Branding: The development of a brand’s reputation and image, along with increasing the recognition of your company. 
  • Market Segmentation: Facilitates targeting those most likely to be satisfied customers of your company or content. It involves splitting your target market up into smaller groups of people with similar characteristics. 
  • Competitor Analysis: It is the process of identifying and assessing your competitors based on their strategies to unearth their strengths and weaknesses relative to your brand.
  • Employee Satisfaction: The degree to which employees are content and fulfilled with their jobs, including their schedule, work environment and banter with fellow employees.
  • Customer Satisfaction: The measurement of how happy customers are with a company's products, services, experiences and interactions.

Types of Surveys

Finally, we arrive at the types of surveys, the most granular aspect of survey market research methods, that is, unless you delve further by looking into survey questions. 

These surveys are classified as belonging to either quantitative or qualitative methods, along with their best application type. As for the latter classification, you ought to know that these surveys are not necessarily limited to these applications. 

Rather, they are most apt for the named applications and campaigns, but due to the versatile nature of surveys, the following can be used in other applications, including those not mentioned in this article.

  1. Cross-sectional surveys: Gather data to make inferences about a population at some point in time. 
    1. Used to provide snapshots of the populations they survey.
    2. Drawn from a few specific variables to narrow down a unique and smaller population.
    3. Method: Quantitative surveys
    4. Best used for: advertising, market segmentation, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, branding
  1. Longitudinal Surveys: Study variables over longer periods of time. (Weeks to decades)
    1. Require more dedication from respondents and researchers, including time and money. In this regard, a larger pool of participants is used and studied for much longer.
    2. Like cross-sectional surveys, these are also observational and study the exact sample pool for the length of the study.
    3. Method: Primarily qualitative, but can be quantitative
    4. Best used for: marketing, competitor analysis, market segmentation
  2. Retrospective Surveys: Merge aspects of both cross-sectional and longitudinal survey methods. 
    1. Observe changes that occur over a longer period of time, but are facilitated just once. 
    2. Thus, responders discuss occurrences, attitudes and feelings from the past. 
    3. Method: Qualitative and quantitative surveys
    4. Best used for: Marketing, branding, competitor analysis

Going Beyond Survey Research Methods

Understanding the various survey research methods are crucial to forming the most fitting market research campaign for your brand. However, it doesn’t end here. With innovations in the market research field, other survey methods and sub-methods are going to emerge.

Moreover, after you’ve found the best survey research method(s) for your company, you’ll need to conduct the proper survey data analysis

As such, you’ll need to analyze your surveys, and this can be done in a number of formats. Some are going to be more visual than others. 

After all, conducting surveys is one thing, but understanding the surveys is the centerpiece of any research campaign.

Frequently asked questions

What is a quantitative research survey?

A quantitative research survey is one in which all responses can be assigned a numerical value so that results can be easily analyzed. They are used to quantify thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to make generalizations about the target market.

What is a qualitative research survey?

A qualitative research survey is used to gain a deeper understanding of the ideas, opinions, or experiences of a group of people. This type of survey uses open-ended questions that allow respondents to discuss their opinions freely.

What is a market research panel?

A market research panel is a group of individuals who have been selected to participate in a series of surveys over a specific period of time.

What is a random sampling pool?

A random sampling pool is a group of individuals who have been selected at random to participate in a survey. In an online survey tool, a sample pool is derived via automation.

What is a longitudinal survey?

A longitudinal survey is one that studies a group of individuals over a period of time, which can range from weeks to decades.


The 3 Major Types of Survey Research Methods

The 3 Major Types of Survey Research Methods

Within the ever-evolving and accelerating market research space, there is a litany of surveys making the rounds. Businesses are scrapping to get all the necessary consumer insights into their hands, and this is a fitting approach to satisfy any target market.

That’s because surveys allow you to gain an edge within your niche and outperform your competitors. While nothing is guaranteed, researchers and marketers have long been turning to surveys to observe the minds of their customers and potential customers.

Before perusing through the aforementioned litany of surveys, you ought to know about the different types of survey methods. That’s because there’s no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to survey research. 

Business needs vary, as do their industries, customers and campaigns. Let’s navigate the three most salient types of survey methods.

Survey Research — Beyond Distribution Type

In survey research, there are four types of distribution methods — but we won’t be covering those too much in depth. That is because they are widely known and seen. It’s virtually impossible for you or your business to not have heard of them in a limited capacity at the very least.

However, for the purpose of organizing the in-depth survey methods we discuss later into the deployment types, we’ll briefly mention them here. The four different types of survey deployment methods are:

  1. Paper surveys
    1. Written questionnaires
    2. Mail-in surveys
    3. Newspaper surveys 
  2. Online surveys
    1. Online forms
    2. Proprietary surveys (on brand sites)
    3. Email surveys
    4. In-app surveys
    5. Third-party surveys 
  3. Telephonic surveys
    1. Cold calling
    2. Anonymous respondents 
  4. One-on-one interviews
    1. In-person and onsite interviews
    2. Less anonymity

All of these survey deployment types can serve both qualitative and quantitative research needs. The ones you choose to incorporate into your market research campaigns is ultimately up to the needs of your business. Some businesses prioritize ease, some prefer quick insights while others prefer cost-savings.

Now that you know survey distribution types, less delve further into specific survey methods.

Cross-Sectional Survey Studies

Cross-sectional surveys concentrate on a very specific point in time and exist as a quick overview of a small population sample. This method is ideal for situations wherein quick answers are needed to gain knowledge on standalone, or single situations. 

This survey method is based on three conditions: 

  1. the distribution of surveys to small samples 
  2. within large populations and 
  3. conducted over a small period of time.

The sample pool is drawn from specific variables, usually, only a few to narrow down a unique and usually small population. The findings are recorded within a short period of time and are studied and archived within that one specific point.

The variables are not manipulated as this type of research method is for observations only. This approach cannot measure causation between certain occurrences (ex. Inactivity and weight); rather, it measures the correlation between occurrences.

Longitudinal Surveys

The antithesis of cross-sectional surveys, longitudinal surveys study variables over a longer period of time. This can be anywhere between weeks and on the far end of the spectrum, decades. 

As such, they require more input in terms of several aspects, including participants, time and money. In this regard, a larger pool of participants is used and studied for much longer.

Similar to cross-sectional research, this method is also observational and studies the exact sample pool for the duration of the study.

Longitudinal surveys come in three main sorts:

  1. Trend surveys: 

    1. Study trends
    2. Observe how participants’ tendencies change over time
    3. Ask the same questions at different points in time
    4. Don’t necessarily study the exact same participants throughout, since the focus is on trends
  2. Panel surveys:

    1. Focus more on people than trends
    2. The same participants are studied throughout the duration of the study
    3. Tend to be more expensive and difficult (tracking & keeping up with the same people for years on end)
  3. Cohort surveys:

    1. Regularly study a group of participants that fall under a specific category
    2. Don’t require the same participants to take part every year
    3. Examples include those born within the same decade, workers of the same industry at the same time, other common life experiences

All three of these kinds of surveys help researchers study how people change and, as longitudinal research, they are also part of correlational research.  Longitudinal surveys help businesses and researchers scrutinize developments and changes.

They allow researchers to assess whether the changes are due to age, life factors or trends.

Retrospective Surveys

This survey method is yet another type based on frequency. It combines aspects of both cross-sectional and longitudinal survey methods. 

Retrospective surveys observe changes that occur over a longer period of time, much like longitudinal surveys. However, like cross-sectional surveys, they are facilitated just once. As such, responders discuss happenings from the past. These include feelings, attitudes, experiences and beliefs.

The findings are thereby longitudinal in nature, but performed in a cross-sectional fashion, ie, without requiring the long amounts of time to collect the data, like in traditionally longitudinal studies.

This scaling back on timing and monetary savings are the major advantages of this type of survey method. However, it does have its fair share of drawbacks, mainly those of memory distortion. For example, memories from the recent past may be vivid or clear enough to provide researchers with accuracy.

But memories of the more remote past, or even those of both the recent and distant past, when compared against one another, may lead to inaccurate answers.

Settling on the Correct Survey Method

Before you conduct any survey research, there are several questions you can stand to ask yourself or your own business. These should help you narrow down the proper survey method and distribution channel for your survey research. 

Here are some questions to consider which method is most suitable for you:

  • Do you need to gather long-term, continuous research or are you looking to gain insights on the current timeframe?
    • This will help you decide between choosing a cross-sectional or longitudinal survey study.
  • If you prefer a long-term study, are you willing to persist in obtaining responses from your sample pool, or do you want to pursue different respondents each time?
  • Would you prefer to survey the same group of respondents in the long term?
  • How often do you need survey responders to take part in your survey research campaign?
  • Are you looking to understand the development of people’s behaviors or trends within your industry?
  • If you don’t need to conduct a survey across a large span of time, do you need to question respondents about the past?
  • Do you need to study a specific category of participants, or can they fall within a more broad category?

As a business, you should cross-reference your responses to these questions with the information above. That way, you can make an educated decision about which survey method and (survey types) are best for your business. 

Frequently asked questions

What are the four methods of survey distribution?

The four survey deployment methods are paper surveys, online surveys, telephonic surveys, and surveys conducted via in-person interviews.

Why are cross-sectional surveys conducted?

Cross-sectional surveys are used to quickly get answers about a specific scenario at a certain point in time. They focus on a small sample size to provide a general overview of a specific scenario or situation.

What is a longitudinal survey?

A longitudinal survey studies a pool of participants over a set period of time. The period of time can range from weeks to many years. It is performed to understand how the respondents change or develop over time.

What are the three types of longitudinal surveys?

The three types of longitudinal surveys are trend surveys, panel surveys, and cohort surveys.

How is a retrospective survey different from a longitudinal survey?

Retrospective surveys are performed to observe changes that occur over time, but they are conducted only one time. The survey is performed to understand how the respondents feel or react to something that happened in the past.