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4 Case Examples of Market Research

Perhaps you are opening a new business or maybe you have known the same group of customers for years.  While you may think you already know the perfect marketing strategy, you could be surprized by what you find.  Even larger companies have faltered by failing to conduct research to learn what their customers actually want. In this article, we will see case examples of how market research (or a lack thereof) changed the outcome of a marketing campaign, or even the whole business offering.

So, why is market research so important when it comes to marketing?  Market research can help you identify key obstacles, develop highly personalized content, and identify current and future needs.  Ultimately, market research is about making your brand more interesting to the group of people most likely to buy your products.

Don’t make the fatal marketing flaw of assuming what your target audience wants. We’ll look at some case example of the importance of conducting market research before you begin broadcasting your message.



Case Example: Cultural Research

Cultural research involves studying the impact of culture on individual experiences, everyday life, social relations, and power.  The following example will illustrate where Snapple’s lack of cultural research cost them the ability to expand into a new market.


The popular tea and drink company Snapple tried to expand globally but were ultimately unsuccessful with launching a new marketing campaign in Japan. The primary reason they lacked market research into what the Japanese would find appealing in a beverage. While a large group of North Americans prefer drinks with pulp, Snapple made the fatal marketing flaw of assuming it would also be true of a Japanese population. If Snapple had conducted preliminary market research they would have learned that the Japanese preferred clearer beverages and would not have launched drinks in Japan that appeared clouded with pulp.

While cultural research is an important part of market research, it is important to also conduct industry trend research so that you can be predict the next biggest trend before it hits the market, being the first to provide new, in-demand products to your customers.



Case Example: Industry Trends Research

Industry trend research considers factors such as technological breakthroughs, changes in consumer behaviour, and changes in the market that may impact upon your industry.  The following case study of Amazon launching a video streaming service will show how industry research can help you stay ahead of the competition.


Rather than simply sticking to what works, Amazon isn’t afraid to expand into new territory and this is a core reason why they are so profitable. According to Verdict analyst O’Brien “the key to Amazon’s success is that is isn’t afraid to try out new things even if they fail. That urgency and scale is hard not to admire.” An example of this is when Amazon launched Amazon Prime Instant Video in February of 2011 in response to consumers moving away from traditional TV to online streaming sites, and paid subscriptions to sites such as Netflix.

Similar to Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video provides Amazon Prime customers access to over 5,000 movies and TV shows for free with their membership. By now you may be wondering how well Amazon is competing with Netflix—and the results may surprize you. While in 2017 Netflix still outnumbers subscribers watching video by over two-to-one, as of February of 2018, Amazon is beating Netflix in 3 countries: Germany, India, and Japan.  According to Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky “Prime members who watch video also spend more on Amazon”.  As you can see from the example, being open to new trends can help your business anticipate consumer needs allowing you to be more relevant to your customers.

We’ve looked at how cultural and industry tend research are both an integral to a strong marketing strategy.  Next, we’ll see an example of how competitive research can impact the outcome of a marketing campaign.



Case Example: Competitive Research

Competitive research is about knowing your competitors’ products, messaging, and business positioning so you can better anticipate how your customers want to be talked to and identify market gaps which exist when your customers have a need that isn’t being met by a competitor.  Social giants Twitter and Instagram both pivoted their marketing strategy and product positioning following competitive research and to a large extent this shaped their success.


In 2015, Evan Williams and Biz Stone developed the precursor to Twitter, which was designed as a podcast-sharing platform.  Around June of the same year Apple had launched podcast support for iTunes, putting Twitter in direct competition with Apple.  After researching the new market, exploring user adoption rates, technology, and customer acquisition costs, Twitter decide that rather than competing with Apple, they would pivot their approach, creating a social network for people to share what they were up to. Williams and Evans looked at existing social platforms such as Facebook to see where users were dissatisfied.  Learning that Facebook users loved photo-sharing but found the newsfeeds to be cluttered, Twitter aimed to simplify how information was displayed in newsfeeds, by limiting the number of characters and simplifying the display. This pivot due to cultural research is what ultimately lead to Twitter’s overwhelming success.


Did you know that Instagram started out with many more features than what they provide on their platform today? Initially launched in 2010 as a location-based check-in app called Burbn, founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger decided to re-evaluate the market to see where they could gain an edge against their competition. Systrom reports that the competitive market “felt cluttered and overrun with features”.  Deciding that they were too late to the game to launch alongside their competitor in the check-in space, Foursquare, they instead pivoted their approach.  Removing the majority of the app’s features, their new, simplified app had only three core features: photo sharing, liking, and commenting. Rebranding themselves as Instagram—the photo sharing network we know them as today—they gained quick success and were bought out by Facebook in 2012 for close to $1 billion in cash and stock.

As you can see with the case examples of Twitter and Instagram, knowing your competition can help you rebrand as distinct from your competition, making you more relevant to your target market.  Next we will see how audience research can get a closer look at how to learn more about target customers through gathering demographic data, psychographic data, and behavioural data.



Case Example: Audience Research

Audience research involves gathering information about your target customers’ demographics, psychographics, and behaviours so you can better understand the size, characteristics, and composition of your audience.  The French luxury jewelry company Cartier was very successful with a Valentine’s Day ad because of their use of audience research to target a very specific subset of the population.


The luxury gods company Cartier had the objective that they wanted to drive online sales of fine jewelry at the time surrounding Valentine’s day shopping using a Facebook Ad.  Following audience research, they determined that they wanted to target people aged 18 and above who lived in the United Kingdom with interests in art, jewelry, fashion accessories, luxury goods, or one of the high-end competitors.  Their Facebook Ad was so successful in targeting this subgroup of the population that Cartier saw twice the return on ad spend compared with past campaigns. The Facebook also succeeded a  40% increase in the relevance score of their “For Him” campaign as well as a 25% increase in the relevance score of their “For Her” campaign.

Cartier succeeded in their Valentine’s Day campaign because they researched the demographics, psychographics, and behaviour of their target audience before determining which people would see the Cartier Ad in their news feed.


A common denominator in all success stories is that the companies began their marketing campaign with market research. Conducting the 4 main types of market research can help you refine your core messaging so that you are communicating in a way that is highlighting your advantages from the competition, while being higher personalized to your audience, their culture and the trends that they are interested in.


Lean Marketing Research

At Lean Marketing, market research is an integral starting point with all of our clients. Because we understand the importance of knowing your customers before we establish your product positioning or marketing and communications strategy.

 How has market research or a lack thereof impacted how a social campaign was received? Our team at Lean Marketing wants to hear from you!