Consumer behavior is triggered by the context or occasion one is in as well as by one’s mood, habits and emotions. Correspondingly, purchase decisions are influenced by both the external and the internal factors of the context consumers are in. Yet we keep on conducting survey research without taking these context elements into account. The majority of survey research projects are filled out by participants who are supposedly sitting at their computer, but we are missing out on any information on their contextual background.
If context has such an impact on our decisions, why do we not take it into account when measuring concept performance? Together with Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), a multinational tea and coffee company, we tested a new mobile survey approach to test the impact of context in concept validation research.
What did we do?
To validate this context-based thinking, we used 3 previously tested coffee concepts that were about to be launched on the market. In order to measure the impact of context, we worked with 3 parallel sampling designs, all mobile-enabled as we believe context can only be measured accurately through in-the-heat-of-the-moment measurement:
1. Status quo: traditional concept measurement approach using a mobile survey, where each participant was invited to rate 2 random concepts.
2. On a mission: in this gamified mobile design, participants were invited to complete 2 missions, each one referring to a given (coffee) occasion. Only when participants were in that specific occasion could they unlock the mission and rate two random concepts on 5 core KPIs, allowing for real in-the-heat-of-the-moment measurement. To unlock a mission, participants had to prove they were in the middle of that occasion by uploading a picture through their mobile device.
3. Do it now: in this design we triggered participants with an SMS. Upon receipt, they were invited to take a picture demonstrating where they were at that moment, at which point they could participate in the mobile survey and rate 2 concepts.
The on a mission measurement led to a higher score on concept appeal, usefulness and credibility in comparison with the other two sampling approaches, which can be explained by the fact that these on a mission occasions trigger a clear relevance with the product. When we look at the purchase intention, we see no difference between the on-a-mission (in context) design and the standard design.
In order to assess which of these sampling approaches best reflects the actual market performance, we set up a post-measurement. In the fall of 2014, JDE launched one of the tested concepts on the French market, namely L’Or Sublime. In January, we set up a post-measurement with both consumers who participated in the first measurement of the study and others who hadn’t. Comparison of the priced buying intention with the number of people who actually bought the product proved that the in-context measurement gave a significantly better prediction in comparison with the other two designs.
The true value of in-context measurement lies in the fact that it helps understand which context or occasion your product is more relevant in. As such, it allows us to decrease the gap between insight and actions.
Based on this (one) study, we do not believe we need to radically change the way we do concept testing; the standard concept validation approach shows to be a good measure when it comes to intention, yet the above clearly shows that context is an important parameter in concept validation. We do however believe that surveys should capture the contextual background consumers are in, as we should no longer assume that consumers are participating in surveys in total isolation.