Thursday, December 18, 2008

Immersive research: P&G’s approach of getting deep customer insights

Getting deep consumer insights: How do you get deep customer insights? P&G asked this question when it realized in 2001 that in spite of having one of the finest market research organizations, it does not have enough consumer insights. Since then it has turned the market research organization into a consumer-understanding powerhouse and consumer-insight generator. Between 2002 and 2007 it has invested more than a billion dollars in what it calls “immersive research” involving more than 4 million consumers a year. What is “immersive research”? Let’s look at it briefly in this article. (source: Game-changer by A. G. Lafley and Ram charan)

Immersive research: In 2002, P&G launched 2 programs: Living It and Working It. Living It enables employees to live with consumers for several days in their homes, eat meals with the family, and go along on the shopping trips. Employees experience firsthand these consumers’ demands for their time and their money, the way they interact with their social networks, what’s most important to them, which products they buy and how they use the products, and how the brand and products fit into their lives. Working It provides employees with the opportunity to work behind the counter of a small shop. This gives them insights about why shoppers buy or do not buy a product in a store. They also gain appreciation of how the innovations they bring to market make life easier or difficult for the person stocking the shelf. Let’s look at the story of Downy Single Rinse as to how Living It helped P&G.

Downy Single Rinse story: By spending time with lower-income Mexican households P&G gained following insights:
  • Lower-income Mexican women take laundry very, very seriously. They cannot afford to buy many new clothes very often, but they take great pride in ensuring that their family is turned out well. Sending your children to school in clean, ironed, bright clothing is a visible sign of being a good mother. Mexican women spend more time on laundry than on the rest of the housework combined.
  • More than 90 percent use some kind of softener, even women who do some or all of their laundry by hand.
  • Softening process is really demanding; it required a lot of energy and time. A typical load of laundry went through following six-step process: wash, rinse, rinse, add softener, rinse, rinse. No problem if all this is just a matter of pressing a button every once in a while. But it’s no joke if you have to walk half a mile or more to get water.
DSR, a product to match the insight: With this insight, P&G came up with Downy Single Rinse which reduced the six-step process to three: wash, add softener, rinse. Cutting down on the number of rinses saves enormous time, effort and water. DSR was launched with endorsement of the Mexican water and environment agency. There were lots of in-store demonstrations so women could see it work. DSR was a hit from the start.

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