In a new report out today, my colleague Sarah Rotman Epps writes about the emerging but limited market for fitness wearables like the Nike+ FuelBand and the Jawbone UP. The report finds that only 4% of US online adults, or about 8 million consumers, fit a target profile predictive of buying a fitness wearable. Why so few? It turns out that mainstream consumers’ attitudes are very different from the health-conscious tech optimists buying these products today.
A few months back, we set out to understand how mainstream consumers feel about these devices using our Market Research Online Community (MROC) of 1,500 general US online consumers. As I’m using a wearable health-tracking device, I was excited to learn whether these consumers saw the same value that I saw in these innovative products.
Well, they don’t. In fact, “excited” isn’t even in their vocabulary when it comes to wearable devices. “Waste of money” was more how they described them.
Consumers feel that they know what to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle and use the concept of “moderation” to monitor their health, rather than fancy devices. In general, though, they lack self-awareness of their own unhealthy habits, they don’t feel accountable for their own health, and they expect their primary care doctor to monitor their well-being over the long term. Their perception is that wearable devices are for people who are chronically ill, need help with weight loss, or have obsessive personalities.
I have to share something with you — I’m upset. Why? Because many clients have no idea of the value of good, solid qualitative research, nor the investments needed. Recently, I was discussing a prospective qualitative research project; upon revealing the cost of such a project, one of the group members replied, “That is the same price as for a quantitative project; how can you justify that price?”
The conversation reminded me of my favorite quote from the movie You’ve Got Mail: Tom Hanks inquires about a book with hand-tipped illustrations and asks, “That’s why it costs so much?” and Steve Zahn retorts, “No, that’s why it’s worth so much.”
So, why is qualitative research worth so much?
Because there is a lot of skill involved in uncovering insights from qualitative research. Qualitative research is not about putting a couple of quotes on a page. It requires time, thought, and creativity to produce successful insights. What and who you put into your qualitative research process will determine what you get out of it. And it requires special skills. Unfortunately for us qualitative researchers, there aren’t many tools to help us with data analysis. Usually, it’s a manual process combined with a natural ability to read between the lines to pull out those impactful findings — combined with a creative mind to transform these into a compelling story.
Last week, I ran into an infographic on Ad Age about The People of Walmart. It compares the demographics of Walmart, Kmart, Kohl’s, and Target shoppers: for example, age, sex, income, and region of the customers. It shows that more women than men shop at Walmart, and that their audience is quite equally spread across age as well as income. Recently, Forrester conducted a survey where we gained insights on customers of retailers like Walmart. We found that while it’s great to examine the demographics of shoppers, it’s much more powerful (and actionable) to look at other insights about these retailers’ customer base, like marketing preferences, spend levels, and brand consideration.
Below you'll find some of the results from this Forrester study. You'll see that the average US online adult who shops at Walmart spent about $848 on average in the past year, but that only about half are likely to recommend the retail giant to a friend or family member. When these results are compared to other retailers, and by demographic, you create real insights.
I’d love to hear from you: How do you target your customers? Are there any behavioral and attitudinal variables that have been very helpful in defining your target segments?