Customer Centricity: Making Strategic Decisions using Market Research

Poonam Rao
5 min readDec 4, 2021 Shubham Dhage.

Understanding your buyers and their minds can help you capture their attention, scale revenue and delight your target audience.

In this article we will explore quantitative and qualitative marketing research techniques and how they can be leveraged in making strategic decisions for your brand. We will learn how research findings can be presented in meaningful formats like customer personas and journey maps.

Types of Market Research

Primary Research
Designed to address a specific question. Here insights are gathered directly from talking to your customers in the form of interviews, surveys, focus groups, etc.

Secondary Research
Analysis of existing, published research to understand industry, market size, key competitors, major players, etc. This information is available on public sources, government sites, trade publications, journals and gathered using desktop research. This research could be purchased as well.

Quantitative Research: Understanding the Numbers

This objective analysis seeks to test hypothesis. It helps you understand what is happening by evaluating hard data that boils down your analysis to facts and figures, pure numerical data. A holistic unbiased sample can be used to predict behaviors of a larger population and scaled easily.

The questions seek to understand:

  • How much?
  • How often?
  • What percentage?
  • What proportion?
  • To what extent?
  • What is?
  • What are?

Quantitative techniques involve survey and data analytics. The following questions about your brand could be explored in areas of descriptive, comparative, or relationship-based.

  • What percentage of enterprise accounts are mature in their Big Data journey?
  • Which cloud platform do the medium sized vs large scale enterprises use?
  • What are the areas of security concerns for our customers?
  • Which website pages are most frequently visited?
  • Where are customers spending the most time on your website?
  • At what point are they abandoning their shopping cart?
  • What are the top reasons they call your support teams?
  • What is the age range of your most frequent buyers?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What are the gaps between planned vs actual customer experiences?
  • How often do your customers engage with the brand?
  • What factors affect and influence decision-making?
  • How much are your customers willing to pay for the product or service?
  • Are there any differences between the male and female buying patterns?

Qualitative Research: Understanding the Story

This subjective analysis seeks to get a deeper understanding of social interactions. It helps you understand the “why” of the phenomenons and used when analysis cannot be quantified. It takes the “what” is happening and aims to conduct a deep dive to evaluate the root causes. This research is non-representative of the total population.

Qualitative techniques like in-depth user interviews, open-ended questions, focus group discussions, behavioral observation, ethnography, searching online forums & chat rooms for dominant opinions, usability testing, diary studies, etc. can be used. These techniques require appointing a moderator who is neutral and doesn’t allow bias to creep into analysis.

The following questions can be addressed and can fall in areas of predictive, exploratory or interpretive.

  • Why are customers choosing your product?
  • Why customers like or hate your brand?
  • What are their opinions, feelings and motivations that drive their actions?

Quantitative and Qualitative research are two fundamental methods of collecting and interpreting data in research. These methods are really powerful if used concurrently to produce quality results. When used in combination they give one confidence to act, knowing that the hypothesis is validated.

Finding the Right Participants

It doesn’t matter how many people you talk to unless you are talking to the right ones! Irrelevant information creates noise and if used for decision-making results in poor outcomes.

Best Practices in Designing Surveys

Surveys are quick and inexpensive way to gather data. Creating surveys is both an art and a science. As the saying goes “It is easy to be hard, it is hard to be easy”. It takes a lot to design an effective survey that respondents will engage in, feel motivated to complete rather than randomly check boxes or worse not even attempt. Few best practices include:

  • Determine your end goal. Identify what answers you need and frame the questions accordingly.
  • Keep it short. Cut extra words.
  • Avoid duplicates.
  • Create a logical flow.
  • Place critical questions at the beginning.
  • Use the right format for each question — close ended vs open ended.
  • Break questions into multiple pages if there are many.

Before deploying the survey at large scale, observe your initial participants as they answer the survey to see which ones they get stuck at. Use tools like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms to create surveys and aggregate your findings. Many of these tools provide automated charts and graphs.

Communicating Research Findings

How can you leverage customer insights to impact strategic changes for your brand? Presenting the research findings in a persuasive format can make all the difference in moving the needle. A data story that is actionable can inspire people to act. Personas and Journey Maps are two ways to relay the findings of customer research.

  • Personas give a name to your specific traits in your customer segment to provoke empathy. They let you paint a picture of the customer characteristics found in the market segment. Limit to 3–4 personas of your target customer segment.
  • Journey Maps detail the emotional highs and lows that the customers go through as they interact with your organization and brand in a visual format. They help you make value-driven decisions at specific moments throughout the customers experience. These are very effective in orchestrating cross-channel touchpoint experiences and interactions. By understanding the customer journey to buy a product or service and their feelings and emotions can help an organization improve customer experience.

Final Thoughts

Personas and Journey Maps are powerful deliverables that help you empathize with your customers, make customer-centric decisions and drive a culture that constantly strives to optimize customer experience

Statistical modeling, Topic modeling, and Text mining techniques can enable organizations to gain valuable insights on topic categories, sentiment and emotion analysis from their survey data. This can be further validated with other sources of unstructured data.



Poonam Rao

Exec Director StratEx - I bring to the table blend of data science, finance and strategy management skills with 20+ years of experience in insurance & fintech.