By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Coyote Insight (CI), a high-tech market research and strategic planning consultancy founded here by Verity Group veterans Bill Matthies and Grace Post, has embarked on a major study of consumer attitudes toward home convergence.
According to Post, the project is unique in both its subject matter and the approach that it employs.
"Home convergence is one of those terms that is used by many to describe a myriad of products and technologies that are now or soon will be offered to consumers," Post said. "But if the industry has trouble keeping it all straight, and they do, you can imagine how difficult it is for the consumer."
To measure consumer sentiment on home convergence, CI has developed a technique it refers to as Environmental Observation Research (EOR), which involves talking to and observing consumers in the environment in which they will be using the products.
In this case, that means the home — a time-consuming process that Post hopes will yield more accurate results than those elicited from more traditional forms of research such as telephone and Internet interviews or focus groups.
"Coyote uses traditional research methodologies whenever appropriate, but in those cases where the concept or product is new, asking consumers what they think or believe they will do is simply not adequate," she said. "It is not that they intentionally mislead in their answers but rather that they do not know or cannot describe why they feel and act as they do."
In such instances, she said, the product use environment becomes essential. EOR enables CI to participate in that. "We become part of the nine families we will visit, including eating meals with them and recording them not only talking about what they do and do not know about home convergence but actually observing them use the products in question."
Once complete and edited, this information becomes invaluable in helping industry clients better focus their home convergence efforts, she said.
Post noted that despite the small sample size, qualitative research, which includes EOR and focus groups, helps to clearly define what consumers are thinking and doing, and delivers the type of concise detail that wider-net quantitative methodologies can't.
CI's home convergence fieldwork will be completed this month. This includes extensive visits with nine pre-screened U.S. households that are representative of approximately 80 percent of the households that are considered to be the primary buying population for home convergence products.
Principals Post and Matthies personally conduct the visits and record all activity and discussions on high-resolution digital DVCAM camcorders. This will result in more than 90 hours of unedited video that will be edited down to a 90-minute tape with voice-over commentary. But according to Post, the real work begins after the tapes are provided to CI's clients.
"After the client has reviewed the video, Bill and I spend as much time as necessary in their office talking with them about what it means, and more importantly, what they should do as a result. That is where the real value of this project becomes apparent."
Further information on the convergence project is available on Coyote Insight's Web site at www.coyoteinsight.com.
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