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A M/A/R/C Case Study - Developing Customer Relevant Concepts


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How M/A/R/C helped one automotive part distributor utilize the voice of the customer insights to help develop a new way to reach replacement part buyers.

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A M/A/R/C Case Study - Developing Customer Relevant Concepts

  1. 1. M/A/R/C Case Study Developing Customer Relevant Concepts How M/A/R/C helped one automotive part distributor utilize the voice of the customer insights to help develop a new way to reach replacement part buyers. © 2011 by M/A/R/C® ResearchAll rights reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form of printing or by any other means, electronic or mechanical, including, but not limited to, photocopying,audiovisual recording and transmission, and portrayal or duplication in any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from M/A/R/C Research.
  2. 2. The Business IssuesThroughout the automotive industry, our client’s type of automotive replacement part iscurrently marketed using one primary standard. Our client wanted to develop a newconcept for the part which would emphasize assessing multiple aspects of the automotivepart when deciding on a replacement, rather than the single aspect currently being usedfor selection. It was expected that this new concept would allow customers to be able toselect an automotive part that would fit best with their own driving habits, environmentand other needs. By allowing customers to have a more “customized” fit between theirneeds and their replacement part our client hoped to differentiate themselves from theircompetitor’s.Many automotive replacement parts are difficult for most consumersto distinguish between, and often a “grudge” purchase that is made There was a lack of anout of necessity…rather than the result of a well thought out, planned understanding of customer’sprocess. Recent trends have shown fewer and fewer consumers needs when deciding on areplacing automotive parts themselves, instead relying on replacement part.recommendations and installation from their mechanic when choosingwhich part to purchase and install in their car. Additionally, for mostautomotive parts, there is little awareness of which characteristics areimportant to consider when making purchase decisions. As a result,the ability to differentiate automotive replacement parts in the mindsof consumers is a challenging undertaking which requires knowinghow they currently choose the parts, as well as what areas they mightneed to be educated in to respond to the new concepts our client wasdeveloping.Given that information related to how and why customers choose a specific replacementpart was critical to choosing the new concept that would best differentiate our client’sautomotive part it was important to uncover all of the drivers, both rational andemotional, behind a consumer’s parts choice. At the same time it was important to alsounderstand if there were any needs among consumers related to this type of part thatwere currently not being met that could be incorporated into the new concept to ensureits success. A key part of the research was also to understand how and why dealers andmechanics were recommending a specific replacement part to their clients given that mostconsumers rely on the recommendation of these professionals when purchasing a newpart.The Research ObjectivesThe research was driven by a desire to understand customer’s wants and needs related toour client’s type of automotive part: What were customer’s needs associated with these replacement parts, and what benefits (both functional and emotional) did fulfilling these needs bring? Understand perceptions of potential concepts and importantly identify ways to improve to make more consumer relevant. Page 2 Identify the features of the new concept to be optimized? (To be answered with a quantitative phase)
  3. 3. The SolutionThe study M/A/R/C designed combined both qualitative and quantitative phases in orderto provide detailed guidance to our client regarding how to optimize their new automotiveparts concept. The key goal of the qualitative interviews was to both gain an in-depthunderstanding of what drives consumer’s automotive part replacement choice and torefine those concepts that could then be tested in the quantitative phase of the research.The qualitative phase featured the M/A/R/C CustomerVoices SM interview process…aprocess used to gain a literal “straight from the customer’s mouth” perspective of themarketplace. CustomerVoicesSM is a rigorous interviewing and analysis technique that hasits origins in laddering. It is an exacting qualitative methodology that is used to elicit andidentify the marketplace needs for products and services.A key to the CustomerVoicesSM interview is to let respondentsintroduce ideas in their own words rather than supplyingterminology. Once needs have been identified by the customer, the The study design addressedmoderator then follows up on each need separately to gain a deeper the unique aspects of theunderstanding of the rational and emotional benefits that are a result how and why consumersof having these needs met. In addition to the more concrete rational choose an automotiveautomotive parts characteristics, uncovering the “softer” more replacement part.emotional reasons underlying consumers’ replacement choices wasnot an easy task, especially given that most consumers give relativelylittle thought as to which brand or type of replacement part they willinstall in their vehicle. Since many consumers rely heavily on theinput of dealers or mechanics; in addition to talking with consumers,we used the same interviewing method to talk with dealers andmechanics to understand how they make their recommendations.The qualitative research was conducted using face to face interviews among; a) “shadetree mechanics”, those consumers who installed their own replacement for this type ofpart, b) consumers who used a mechanic for the installations, and c) replacement partdealers and mechanics. The interviews were conducted over a four day period in twocities. Using this sample make up and choice of locations helped ensure that a wide varietyof perspectives on replacement part choice were obtained in order to be able to guide thedevelopment of possible concepts.The Results and Actions TakenUsing the insights gained from the qualitative interviews M/A/R/C was able to makeconcrete recommendations as to how best to optimize the different replacement partsconcepts to be tested in the quantitative phase of the research. Page 3
  4. 4. Prior to beginning the qualitative phase of the research our client had Strong qualitative findingsstrong ideas about which replacement part concept they wanted to allowed for the refinementmove forward with developing. However, they had not conducted any of concepts before theresearch among consumers in order to gain their feedback on any of quantitative phase.the different concepts or their components. As a result of thequalitative phase of the research several of the original concepts wereabandoned while others were refined. At the same time someadditional new concepts were developed based on the feedback fromboth the consumers, as well as the dealers and mechanics.After changes were made to the concepts, the new versions were quantitatively assessed.At the conclusion of the quantitative research it was clear that the client’s initial favoredconcept did not resonate with their customers, and as a result was not developed further.Instead a different concept, highlighting different benefits was chosen as the way to moveforward. By having direct feedback from the consumer it allowed our client’s marketingteam to show their internal clients why certain concepts should not be developed in favorof others and how this would impact their business.This research showed the importance of having consumer input in the development ofproduct concepts prior to the beginning of a larger scale quantitative study. Using acombination of more open ended questioning to understand the relevance of this type ofautomotive replacement part to the consumer along with the ability to qualitatively refineor develop concepts proved important to ensuring that the concepts were customer-centric and that only the most viable concepts are tested during the larger scalequantitative phase of the research. Page 4