Meaning making and messaging: Two significant questions in concept/ad/story research
Suppose the marketer or qualitative researcher were allowed to ask only two questions about a concept, ad, story, or communications piece? They would be these: 1. What gut reaction to—how do you feel about—this concept, ad, story, or communications piece? Be sure emotions are accessed, with no intellectual analysis 2. What is this concept/ad/story saying, suggesting, or communicating about the product or brand? In other words, based only on this concept/ad/story or communication: a) What are the brand or product’s physical/emotional characteristics and attributes? i) Keep prompting—what else?—as you explore quickly. b) You can use a fill-in-the-blank exercise to elicit authentic response. “This concept/ad/story is telling me that the brand/product is ___________, ____________, and _____________. Explore the meaning of the language/words. If you’re showing multiple concepts/ads/stories, be sure that you vary the order of sequence to eliminate positioning bias. Also, tell consumers in advance not to compare and that you’re not interested whether they like this one better than that one. Comparing can be done only at the very end of the interview, group, or online platform just as a nice wrap-up and emotional closure. Comparative appeal may or may not be significant to which concept/ad/story is chosen. The first question tries to solicit a vital, active component of emotionality, whether positive or negative. If there’s an emotional “hit,” the ad/concept/story is in the running. It mostly matters that it creates impact and intrusiveness; it doesn’t matter if the consumer likes or dislikes it. The second question is significant. If the concept, ad, or piece provides characteristics, attributes, and elements of the brand or product that are accurate, link to the brand strategy, make sense, are fast to grasp, and seem relevant to the consumer, this is what we’re seeking. Other questions that marketers want to know are helpful and supportive, but secondary. These include: What do you like about the concept/ad/story? What do you dislike? Why? To whom is it communicating? How likely would you be to purchase or to watch it? What language stands out? What’s confusing? What if anything would you think or do as a result of seeing it? Anything you’d want to improve? Summary: If there’s an emotional hit and if the ad/concept/story is communicating accurately and the way you want about the brand or product, you’re on the right track. Be sure a number of consumers including users and non-users, heavy and light frequencies, gender, age, income, education, psychographic segment, ethnicity are included in the story so you can categorize the findings by segment.