I started working as a client of Vision Critical roughly 4 years ago. At the time, VC ran my Community Panel and was coming out with a series of new visual questions. Once I implemented them into my studies I noticed drastically improved response rates. Suffice it to say from then on I wanted to be on the inside and help change the industry. There was no question in my mind that engaged respondents were producing better results.
A project I worked on recently took my opinion of respondent engagement to an entirely different level. A client was interested in using an exercise we have called "Build Your Own ConceptÛ, which allows respondents to make their 'ideal' product from a selection of individual product elements such as 'name', 'description' 'flavors' and 'imagery'. In general, these elements come in both copy and imagery formats. This early stage concept development tool was developed by Vision Critical for a client who had a bunch of great individual components for concepts, but simply wasn't sure how to put them together in an ideal way. We figured "what better way than to have key consumers do it for us?Û
Back to the story. The client had an interesting dilemma: they not only wanted consumers to help them put together which sections of each concept they'd most like to see from the Build Your Own Concept Test, but also wanted to take a step back and understand which sections of a 7-section storyboard actually resonated best in telling the potential product stories ÛÒ which would eventually give them motivation for positioning and advertising campaigns. There were 3 sections dedicated to imagery, and four to relatively heavy copy. The sections with copy had a lot of detailed copy, all of which was deemed very important to the target group. The imagery was also very powerful, and in general did a good job of telling the products' story on its own.
This led to a great discussion: for an exercise like this, would the imagery win outright and we therefore limit or adjust the sections of build your own concept to that, or would the detail provided in the copy resonate stronger with these key consumers?
We needed to figure this out so that going forward we could provide strong direction to all of our clients for what could be best for this type of exercise. We created a Max Diff exercise where respondents were presented with a series of choice sets that depicted both the imagery and the verbiage side by side, and let respondents choose which they found most appealing and which would make them most likely to consider buying the product. The results would then be used to fuel future inputs to Build Your Own concept studies. There were definitely two distinct camps within VC: one who felt the imagery would rule the day, and one who felt engaged consumers would indeed choose the pieces of a concept that spoke to them best, regardless of form.
The results are in: the sections with imagery finished third, sixth and seventh out of seven sections, (remember we had them choose based on not only creating interest in purchase but also on appeal) ÛÒ once again proving that respondents truly do want to be engaged in research and have their opinions heard. They really did read everything and preferred the sections with copy! Suffice it to say several people lost a bet that day, and the lesson is clear: continue to treat respondents as people by truly engaging them and respecting their feedback, and they'll respond accordingly.