Author Archives: Angeline Martin

  1. Improving the food product development process with food market research

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    Food market research is critical to the food product development process.  In an increasingly challenging marketplace, extensive planning and research is required to produce successful food and beverage products.

    New food product development objectives include acquiring new customers, expanding into new geographic markets, boosting profits, and growing market share. Food market research is often used when developing new food concepts, adding to existing product lines and when making modifications to existing products.

    Most food product market research tends to focus on additions and modifications as entirely new concepts are rare and involve a higher level of risk.


    Food product development

    Prior to launching a product, food market research can help with multiple aspects of developing a new food product; from uncovering the needs of the market to giving an indication as to whether a new product will meet those needs.

    Aspects that should be explored in food research include the following:

    • Is the purpose of the product clear?
    • Who are the potential customers?
    • What customer segments exist in the market?
    • Do potential customers see the benefit of the product?
    • What needs do the potential users have?
    • What needs does the product meet?
    • What products are currently bought by potential users to fill those existing needs?
    • Why do those products not fully meet the prospective customer’s need?
    • How likely is it that a prospective customer would buy the new product?

    The answer to all of these questions need to be found, but in a way that does not create bias.  Bias in a market research survey will lead to false information which can have a catastrophic effect when developing a new product.



    In addition to new food product development, aspects such as package design, advertising, in-store promotions, coupons and discount options all need to be evaluated, then designed and then re-evaluated.  Focus groups, friendship groups, cluster groups and diary studies are just a few of the methods used for evaluation.



    Food market research is also beneficial to inform the pricing strategy.  It can be used to uncover the price that a prospective customer be prepared to pay for the new product.


    Place (Distribution)

    Food research can be used to find out how and where prospective customers would expect to be able to buy a product.


    Growth and Maturity Phases

    Food market research may be used throughout the lifespan of a product.  Areas such as pricing, customer satisfaction, views on the product, comparisons with the strengths and weaknesses of competitors’ products should all be analysed. This kind of market research can discover potential opportunities for further product development.

    Contact to find out more.

  2. Eliminating bias in market research

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    Market research is often conducted to help companies to improve their understanding of customers and potential customers. Often, the objective is to better meet customer needs.

    Psychology helps to develop a better understanding of the beliefs, thoughts and perceptions held by consumers. Psychology also helps to identify and analyse trends in what people are buying. It’s also beneficial when examining customer responses to new products.

    Psychology is integral to many stages throughout a research project. Some of the psychology-based approaches commonly used by market researchers are vital for the following:


    Using psychology to eliminate bias in market research

    Using psychological methods can help avoid bias and undue influence when developing a questionnaire. Normally, whether a person is aware of it or not, their own internal biases may affect how they write questions for a survey. This bias may influence the survey and cause incorrect information to be derived from the survey. This can be a major problem for a company that acts on this incorrect information.

    There are numerous biases at play in market research, three of which are very common:

    Confirmation bias in market research

    Unconsciously focusing on evidence that supports their own beliefs is a very common type of bias for inexperienced writers of questionnaires. This is one very good reason to engage an independent market research company.  An independent company will be free of ingrained employee beliefs and cultures.

    Question order bias in market research

    When writing a questionnaire, market researchers need to write questions in a particular order.  This is to prevent the first question influencing the answer to the second question. Market researchers should employ psychological methods to avoid question order bias.

    Culture bias in market research

    This is where the person developing the questionnaire subconsciously assumes that other people have the same beliefs as they do. Culture bias causes questions to be written in a way that subconsciously influences the respondent’s answer.


    As an experienced market research company, at CARD Group we are experienced in developing high quality surveys and in writing interview questions to extract the correct information from consumers. Find out more about us.

  3. Are the views expressed via social media reflective of your target market?

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    Marketing strategies can benefit from high quality social media intelligence and the use of website analytics.  These digital metrics can prove to be invaluable to marketers, provided they are utilised in a way that supports insightful market research.  Following on from a previous blog, noted below are four more reasons detailing how digital metrics can complement effective market research.


    1) Social media monitoring may not provide a true reflection of customer’s buying experiences

    Once a customer exits a store or leaves a website, their perception of their shopping experience normally starts to change.

    If a company wants to find out what a customer thinks of a specific shopping experience on a particular day, they need to survey that customer immediately as they exit the store or website.

    At that point, the customer will be able to answer questions with their experience fresh in their mind, unimpeded by previous memories, general impressions of the brand or other people’s opinions

    Social media monitoring faces some of the same issues as when forwarding a survey by email to customers following a visit to a store or a session online.  Customers who discuss their shopping experiences online may not provide true reflection of their experience but more of their overall opinion of the brand.

    In addition, as social media users are often communicating with friends online, they may embellish a story for the purpose of entertainment or to garner attention from followers.


    2) Your customers may not have social media or Google accounts.

    As there are segments of society that have never had a social media account, or have decided to close their accounts, some customer voices will not be available via social media monitoring.

    Regarding consumers who have not registered for a Google account; their demographic details are not available to Google Analytics.  Therefore, their online browsing and shopping habits will not be available for detailed analysis through digital metrics.


    3) Social media monitoring is still in it’s infancy.  Current systems are still evolving and may not convey the true opinion of consumers. 

    Many companies turn to social media monitoring as the results are fast and fairly inexpensive.  However, accuracy is an issue.  Sarcasm is often misunderstood by social media monitoring tools, as is the implication of words that have more than one meaning.  For example, ‘wicked’ can denote ‘evil’ or alternatively ‘excellent’, depending on the context.

    At this current point in technological developments, automated sentiment reading is generally poor.  Therefore, marketers must check if sentiments are correct.  This verification process slows down results and increases the costs to a point where the difference in speed and cost between traditional market research and online research becomes much less of an issue.


    4) Social media conversations are not consistent so it’s impossible to compare year on year. 

    A product or service that was launched last year will not have the same level of interest this year.  Consumers that have taken to social media to talk about their new purchase are unlikely to discuss online how they have found the performance of a product year after year – certainly not enough customers to render the information a reliable source to compare against the comments from the initial launch.


    Insightful market research can be utilised to establish if social media analysis and website analytics are accurate and reliable.

    If market research shows that the information conveyed by consumers on social media reflects the information conveyed by your primary target, it’ is a good position to be in.

    However, it is crucial to invest in effective market research to ensure that the views expressed by consumers on social media continue to reflect the views of your primary target market.  This verification process needs to be carried out regularly to ensure that information obtained online continues to add value.

  4. Four ways to improve care home marketing

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    Care home marketing has become increasing important in many geographical areas. As a more effective marketing strategy will help to improve performance as well as enabling more efficient use of the budget, it’s crucial to fully understand residents and prospective residents.

    So how do you ensure that your target customers select your care home above one of your competitors?

    1) Understand where your care home catchment area extends to

    Not all care homes have the same catchment area in terms of the acceptable distance to the nursing home.  If you know where the boundary of your specific catchment area is, you can focus your resources on this area.  Marketing communications activity outside of this area will yield less of a return on investment.

    2) Select the right target audience

    Investigate your catchment area to find out what type of residents are available to you or may become available in the future.  What is the demographic breakdown of this area? Are prospective residents likely to be funded by the local authority or would they self-fund?  Are you targeting residents themselves, their children or both? Selecting the right target audience will allow you to focus your greatest resources on the segments that will yield the greatest profit, therefore maximising return on investment.

    3) Understand your customer’s needs

    How do you know the services you are offering meet the needs of your prospective residents?  Are there any aspects of care that are not meeting the expectations of future residents?

    4) Monitor customer satisfaction

    Are your residents and/or their families happy with the care your home is providing? Do your customers share positive word of mouth testimonials? As word of mouth referrals are one of the most common referral methods for care homes, it is important to find out if word of mouth communications are positive – and if they are negative, why.  Are there any services you could feasibly provide to improve your care home?  Do your levels of customer satisfaction increase or decrease over the years?  Are there any aspects of your care that are receiving increasingly negative feedback from residents over time and need to be rectified?

    To develop effective care home marketing, it’s crucial that the marketing strategy decision-making process is based on facts rather than opinion or a perspective from within an organisation.  This is where a market research company can help. Contact CARD Group to find out more or visit Care Home Market Research for further information.

  5. Why Marketing Managers cannot live on digital metrics alone

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    Market research has evolved over the past few years to encompass data gathered via social media monitoring and website analytics.  Whilst these relatively new technologies provide a useful service to companies, they cannot replace traditional market research.  Accurate market research remains vital to developing an effective marketing strategy. These are some of the reasons why…

    1) Certain customers and prospective customers may not be the type of people to share their opinions online.  Therefore, only opinions from more vocal people, who may have no intention of buying, will be visible.

    Consumers that review products and services online are often part of a different demographic group, with significantly differing opinions and shopping habits, to consumers that do not post their opinions on social media.

    Many people do not regularly post their opinions of products whilst engaging in a social media conversation with friends – occasionally someone may vent about particularly poor performance, and even less often, may extol the virtues of a superb experience.

    Brands need to find out if those consumers, who are vocal about their products and services, are part of their target market.  If not, their opinions are not representative of the customer base.  Opinions of buyers and prospective buyers must be sought using a different method.


    2) A company may inadvertently develop a poor marketing strategy based on incorrect information.  Incorrect information may input by consumers to their social media accounts for security reasons.

    With the rise in hacking, consumers may input incorrect personal information such as date of birth, location and employment details to their social media accounts. There are also many social media users who embellish, or completely fabricate information about themselves via their social media accounts.  It’s unclear as to how many people supply accurate information.

    Additionally, the volume and type of information held by a social media account is limited and may not lend itself to the type of consumer research required to inform a business decision. For example, not everybody provides their educational history.


    3) If your online shoppers are browsing and buying whilst logged into a family member’s Google account, Google Analytics will show you incorrect shopper demographics.

    Google Analytics data is fed by the data people supply to their Google accounts.  Some people may not have Google accounts, some people may use the family computer and not bother to log into their own Google account, others may have input incorrect information to their profile.  If a primary target market consists of any of these demographic groups, a company may only be able to gather limited information from Google Analytics.

    Companies need to base their marketing strategies on accurate data to develop the most effective marketing plan.  GIGO also applies to marketing planning…. garbage in, garbage out.

    There are many more reasons why companies need both market research as well as online data to generate optimum sales.  We’ll be taking another look at traditional market research and online data in our next blog.

  6. NI Marketers GDPR Readiness Poll

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    As Secretary of the Market Research Society NI, I’ve been submersed in GDPR for some time now. I’ve been busy organising our most recent Market Research Society NI session; a GDPR information session with Compliance Barrister Orlagh Kelly of

    We thought it would be interesting, as marketers are one of the main user groups of market research, to find out how prepared marketers in Northern Ireland are for the forthcoming GDPR deadline.

    We ran a quick poll via Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook over one week.  Our poll accumulated 31 valid responses.

    Almost half of the marketers who responded to the poll have not yet started to prepare for the GDPR.  Just under one third of respondents are somewhat prepared.  Just under one third of respondents are fairly well prepared or almost prepared whilst none of the respondents are fully prepared.

    The main concern amongst the marketers who responded to our survey is email marketing, in particular the implications of B2B email marketing, Mailchimp databases and consent.

    This readiness response falls fairly well into line with the general feeling of readiness across Northern Ireland.  From speaking to other businesses, we’ve found that it’s only once a business starts to prepare for GDPR, do they realise the enormity of the task.  It’s not just about asking the IT or HR department to tighten up processes – in essence, GDPR will permeate the culture of an organisation and change how personal data is perceived and managed throughout.

    The Market Research Society provides GDPR guidance and has developed a quality process standard called Fair Data.  The Fair Data mark is awarded to companies that meet the Fair Data principles.  Visit the Fair Data website for further information:

    Thanks to everyone who took part in our survey.

  7. Business Improvement District Best Practices Using Market Research

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    Business Improvement District Best Practices, Market Research and Evaluation

    Business Improvement District best practices include setting SMART objectives.  Key performance indicators then enable ongoing performance tracking to ensure the right strategies and tactics are being used to achieve objectives.

    Business Improvement District best practices include the following key performance indicators (KPI):

    • BID visitor demographics compared to catchment population demographics
    • Dwell time
    • Group size
    • Shopper satisfaction

    Throughout our years of surveying customers, analysing data and developing actionable insights for clients, we have discovered that retailers experience increasing levels of revenue as certain KPIs improve.

    Business Improvement District best practices incorporate aspects for both short term and long term strategies.


    Business Improvement District Best Practices: Demographics

    Understanding your catchment population is vital to maximising the potential revenue from your catchment area. If you understand the needs of your primary customer groups within your catchment population, you will then be able to establish if your Business Improvement District (BID) is meeting the needs of your catchment area.

    If your BID is not meeting the needs of your catchment area then monies that should be spent in shops and cafes in your BID are leaking to competing areas.

    If a prospective customer must travel to a competing location to make a specific purchase because they cannot make that purchase in your BID, then it is likely that, out of convenience, they will also make other purchases at that competing location. This spend is spend that should be directed towards shops, cafes and restaurants in your BID.

    Market research companies, such as CARD Group, that are highly experienced in the Business Improvement District and Town Centre Management sectors are able to provide crucial insights to enable you to better understand visitors to your BID. This deeper understanding of customers means that you can identify any gaps in your retail and facilities mix.

    For example, your catchment population could contain a high level of affluent individuals.  However, your BID shopper profile may not reflect this proportion of affluent shoppers. You may need to attract high end shops to locate within your BID to appeal to these more affluent individuals and to entice them to your BID.

    Specialist market research companies provide independent and accurate information to enable you to monitor your and improve upon your key performance indicators.  We can also assist you with maintaining Business Improvement District best practices with regard to monitoring and evaluation.

    Business Improvement District Best Practices: Dwell Time

    Dwell time can be lengthened by improving the retail mix as this provides the opportunity for shoppers to visit additional shops during their visits.

    Our research has shown that the mores time a customer spends in your BID, the more likely they are to purchase.  Our research will show you how to improve your retail mix in order to make it more attractive to your more valuable customers and encourage them to spend more time in your BID.  You may need to improve factors such as parking, facilities for parents with children or cafes.  Each Business Improvement District is different as the population of each local catchment area is composed of different demographics.  These different demographic mixes all have different needs.

    In the short term, analysing dwell time will also provide you with insights to assist you with making decisions regarding events and promotions. You will be able to promote the aspects that matter most to those customer groups that spend the most in your BID with the current retail mix.


    Group Size

    At CARD Group, we have found that as the size of a group visiting a BID increases, spend increases.

    For example, if a woman shops by herself, she tends to spend less.  But if a woman shops with a partner or with her children, she will spend more during the visit as she is shopping for the group. It is important to note, this increased level spend mainly happens when there are appropriate facilities for partners and for children.


    Shopper Satisfaction

    Over many years of surveying customers, we have found that the higher the customer satisfaction rating, the higher the relative spend. The top three factors that are of most importance to customers are the choice of shops, good customer service and safety.



    Many Business Improvement Districts and Town Centres use footfall as a key performance indicator.  Although a useful metric under certain circumstances, footfall counting in isolation cannot provide insight into customers.

    Key performance indicators such as average spend per visit, grocery spend, non-grocery spend, amount spent in each shop, where else customers shop and any travel issues is vital to developing a deep understanding of customers.

    If we incorporate these key performance indicators into our analysis, we are able to explain footfall peaks and troughs as well as any anomalies in footfall volumes.


    Find out more about our Business Improvement District services online, or email to request a call back or a brochure.

    For general information about Business Improvement Districts, please visit the government information and guidance web page.

  8. Customer surveys: Why in-store customer surveys are crucial to retailers

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    Why in-store customer surveys are crucial to retailers

    What is the best way to get a customer’s true opinion? An online survey a few days after a shopping experience? A follow-up telephone call? Or is it a face-to-face customer survey the moment they finish their shop?

    At CARD Group, a UK based market research agency, we have found that one of the most effective methods of surveying customers is to speak to customers as they finish their shopping experience. At that moment the shopping experience is fresh in the customer’s mind, unimpeded by memories, perceptions or opinions. Waiting even a few days before sending out a survey or making a follow up phone call means that a customer’s memory of the event becomes slightly skewed.

    Online and telephone research have their own strengths but for the purpose of extracting accurate customer thoughts on their shopping experience, on site face-to-face customer surveys are the best method.

    Face-to-face customer surveying has the additional benefit of finding exactly the correct people for the sample. Your store contains your customers on the day that you need their opinions – there is no need to source these people online.

    With in-store customer surveys the interviewers are tasked with asking certain customers the questions. Customer surveys may be designed to find out the opinions of a broad spectrum of customers visiting the store. Alternatively the opinions of a specific demographic may be sought.

    If you are looking for a market research company to assist you with addressing a retail challenge, please contact CARD Group. We operate through Northern Ireland, Ireland, the UK and beyond. Highly experienced in retail issues, we have worked both national and international brands. Read more about CARD Group market research services for retail.


  9. Useful Evidence in Policy Making

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    Evidence in Policy Making: A Market Research Society NI and the Alliance for Useful Evidence Meeting

    The Market Research Society NI met in the Senate Room at Queens University Belfast for a session on useful evidence in policy making.

    The session commenced with a presentation from Albert Hamilton Chief Executive of CARD Group and Chair of the Market Research Society NI. A key message from Albert’s presentation was the importance of avoiding bias and perceptive errors when analysing research.

    Peter O’Neill of The Alliance for Useful Evidence then presented on using research evidence in policy making and practice.

    Central to Peter’s presentation was the need for an improved understanding of research quality. He emphasised the importance of quality research as research is needed for such a broad spectrum of tasks such as making the case for new policies and strategies, developing funding bids, creating communications campaigns, information for speeches and media interviews and much more.

    Peter stated that evidence is only as good as the research that collected it. In order to develop accurate insights and understanding to improve policy making, the structure and design of the research must be correct as well as ensuring the right research tools are used to collect the right information.

    A very interesting question and answer session followed with key points raised by a number of delegates. These points included fact checking, levels of public apathy towards facts and the responsibility of key figures to ensure they use facts rather than fiction.

    The Market Research Society NI meeting is planning to host a session on the new data protection legal framework regulations. The session will explain key differences between the UK Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

  10. The Market Research Society Northern Ireland

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    The Business of Evidence:  A Market Research Society NI Event (Belfast)

    The UK research market is larger than the music industry according to a Market Research Society industry report.  The business of evidence market currently generates £4.8 billion in GVA and has been growing at a astounding rate of 65% since 2012.

    Guests at the Market Research Society NI event (located in Belfast), discovered that despite the sector already employing nearly 73,000 full time equivalents, attracting high calibre talent is one of the key challenges for the future.  Certainly more than one third of those surveyed believe the market research sector will face a future skills shortage, particularly in areas such as data science.

    The discussion panellists, following The Business of Evidence presentation, debated the need for the general public to demand evidence to support statements made to the media.  With recent Brexit and US election campaigns criticised for the inaccuracy of the information used, it appears that false or misleading public statements enable manipulation of the media are without consequences.  This misinformation, regardless of whether inadvertent or deliberate, is creating a society where the general public does not know what news sources to trust.

    Massive thanks to PwC for hosting the event and to Julie McClean for presenting the findings of their report.  Thanks also go to Market Research Society NI Chair and CARD Group Chief Executive, our own Albert Hamilton as well as panellists Fiona Rooney of Ipsos MORI, Jeff Peel of Quadriga Consulting and Honor Mallon of PwC.