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The Importance of Storytelling through Video in Consumer Insights

It’s the worst kept secret across consumer-facing industries that, over the last few years, video has exploded in importance. Although the pandemic shuttering employees and customers inside certainly contributed to the increase in video dominance, the trend was already well-established leading up to 2020. The ubiquity of the smartphone has given every person in America the ability to record and watch a video at a second’s notice; the evolution of social media has also created a culture in which well-produced, engaging videos are an expectation – not just an added bonus. As a result, mobile video consumption currently increases by 100% every year, and the format pervades every corner of the digital economy, from customer experience to internal onboarding and training. 

One area in which the potential of video is particularly exciting is in the field of market research. In an industry that is so dependent on gathering granular, nuanced insights, companies that are able to successfully leverage video storytelling strategies are at an enormous advantage. Not only can video capture nonverbal and contextual qualities that other media cannot, but video has the added benefit of creating more sticky, memorable impressions. Studies show that viewers retain 95% of a message they see on a video, versus 10% when reading a text. Many people are highly visual learners, after all; over ⅔ of respondents in a Techsmith study said they understood information better when communicated visually.

With all of the data supporting the value of video, what are you waiting for? Read on to learn more about the specific ways that video content is well-suited for market research strategies, as well as the different ways that the format can be best implemented into any organization.

The Advantage of Video: Bringing Data to Life.

At its core, market research is about interpreting data in order to create the best possible customer experience. This is accomplished by reaching a deep understanding of an audience, their pain points, and how a brand or product can best meet their needs and expectations. There are many different ways to gather this data, from online surveys, to focus groups, to more in-depth interviews. Common wisdom dictates that there has to be some sort of tradeoff, however, between quantitative data and qualitative data. In other words, you can either gather a breadth of information about a large number of customers, or you can gather a depth of information about a few customers. Different case studies will require a different mix of these two, but in general it is difficult to maximize both. This is a constant problem for marketers; 51% have stated a desire to better align these two categories of data.

Implementing video into your research methodology presents a way to better optimize both quality and quantity of data. Like quantitative-focused tools (e.g. online surveys) video can be easily collected from a large group of customers. An army of interviewees, with smartphone in hand, can answer a few simple questions, or record longer impressions, without a researcher ever having to meet them in person. Unlike text-based surveys, however, video responses can convey far more information than a check in a box, or a small list of predetermined answers. Video respondents can inform researchers how they are really feeling, not just in their own words but with their body language, tone of voice, and other qualities that may reveal even more than the answers themselves. This level of depth (especially when combined with AI-powered Knit’s video analysis tools) means that video can capture the nuance of a qualitative response, while preserving the reach of a quantitative one.

Of course, it’s easy to say “Step 1: Add video; Step 2: Analyze responses; Step 3: Profits.” What is more difficult is figuring out how your specific organization can use video in a way that augments internal processes without disrupting them too much. And while every organization is different, and the process of adding any tool to existing workflows is a highly delicate one, there are a few different methods that are useful to consider before launching a video-based approach for market research.

Adding Video to Market Research:

Choosing a Format and a Methodology.

Unsurprisingly, there are as many ways to use video in market research as there are for more traditional methods. Choosing the right format is of utmost importance in forming your strategy, otherwise you may be wasting resources on tools that are not suited for your specific needs. Listed here are just a few different ways that video can be used for market research, as well as the best way to use each format.

Video Diary Studies: A video diary can be a powerful, highly personal way to gather customer feedback. Not only are you able to see potential customers in their environment – giving you a more contextual understanding of the challenges and opportunities they find throughout the day – but you are able to get their relatively unfiltered thoughts. 

Ethnography: Many brands use self-recorded videos to create a kind of ethnography of their customers, especially when performing certain tasks or engaging in specific rituals. This is a great way to see how customers really use a product or approach a situation, as opposed to potentially misleading answers they may give in an isolated survey environment. Bonus: See how large grocery retailer, HEB, quickly uncovered Gen Z consumer trends through fridge and pantry recordings.

In-Depth Interviews: In-depth interviews captured on video can be highly rich in customer information. Subjects will be free to communicate their thoughts and impressions, with the absence of a written medium meaning that their answers will be far less filtered. Transcribers and AI-powered tools can also generate additional insights about these interviews. Bonus: See how CA Ventures leveraged short form IDI’s to lead to persona developments of it’s Gen Z target consumers.

Focus Groups: Although focus groups predate current video technology, they are still a highly valuable tool in the market research process. By interviewing a broad swathe of customers, you can learn more about the attitudes, opinions, and perceptions of your product or the problem you are trying to solve. In addition, platforms like Knit can provide additional, intelligent insights about video feedback that turn focus groups into an even more essential part of your research.

Just as important as how data is gathered, of course, is the way that researchers analyze it. There are many different ways of approaching video content as a researcher or analyst, and each one has its advantages and its drawbacks. The best method, we believe, is a combination of a number of methods, always choosing the best approach for your research question and the specific stage in the process.

Method 1: Open Approach

The purpose of an open approach is to enter research with an open mind, devoid of preconceived notions or biases. You are looking to discover whatever insights you might find about a broad topic, with no patterns or limitations put in place. 

The advantage of an open approach is that you may uncover a diverse range of surprising insights. With no biases from the offset, the process of discovery can be considered more “natural,” and as you analyze interviews you may be more susceptible to come across insights that you weren’t necessarily expecting.

On the other hand, one disadvantage of an open approach is that it can be difficult to normalize and record consistent results. Different subjects or participant groups may approach a question or concept in a radically different manner, making it hard to organize the results. This may be best early in the research process, when you want to form the broadest possible understanding of your customer videos.

Method 2: Closed Approach.

The opposite of the open approach, the closed approach is one that narrows the discovery process, so that the researcher analyzes video footage for specific events and insights. By starting out with a highly specific goal, the researcher can determine whether or not the videos meet their needs.

The advantage of a closed approach is that it is highly focused. When analyzing hours of footage, it can be easy to go down tangents, recording every nuance of a video and missing the relevant details that make up the bigger picture. By applying your attention only to highly relevant findings, you may create an end report that is more useful.

You can imagine the disadvantage of the closed approach: it only works when you have a very specific goal in mind. While this approach is perfect for when you fully understand the task at hand, it may miss important details that would create a richer report. This approach is best later in the research process, after an initial analysis has already picked up key insights.

Method 3: Focused Approach.

Unlike the first two, the focused approach only looks at specific videos or clips, such as those of a single subject or around a single question. This gives the researcher a chance to take a deeper look at  few highly relevant components of a larger body of research.

The advantage of the focused approach is that it allows researchers to dedicate time and attention to the most relevant parts of their data. Instead of sifting through hundreds of hours of footage, giving each video a cursory glance, they can instead spend a long time doing a deep dive on a single one. 

And the disadvantage of the focused approach? As the narrowest possible method of analyzing video data, a focused approach is only able to glimpse a small fragment of the overall body of data. By definition, any other videos that could provide additional context and insight cannot be included in this approach. For this reason, the focused approach is best for the end of the research process, when you have already identified which parts of the videos need the most attention.

One of the best examples of combining approaches that we’ve seen was conducted by Riff Cold Brew during their rebrand and packaging redesign. Riff leveraged a closed approach to gather targeted qualitative feedback on it’s 4 rebrand concepts, then followed up it’s initial study with more in-depth IDI’s and Focus Groups through a focused approached to refine its chosen exectuion. Read more about their study here.

Is Video Right For You?

After learning more about the ways that video can improve your market research process, you may be left with one big question: should I invest in video? The short answer: yes. Video is only going to become more important in the years to come, as companies integrate it into every aspect of digital marketing. If you don’t start exploring video applications now, you may lose your competitive advantage to other companies that are more successfully engaging with and serving their target audiences.

And the longer answer? Obviously, no two companies are the same, and what works for one market research team might be the wrong fit for another. But that is why it’s important to think of video as just another tool in your research arsenal. When carefully evaluated against each specific use case, you will no doubt find that there are many times when video tools are a perfect fit. There will be other times, no doubt, when more traditional methods suffice. But as a highly flexible tool that combines the best of qualitative and quantitative data collection, video should be high on your list of priorities moving forward.

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