Automotive Focus Groups Market Research
Importance of Automotive Market Research
The automotive industry has seen radical growth post-2016. The simple features of old four-wheeled cars have transformed into connected vehicles. The industry has seen several new technologies in recent times. These developments include big data, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things. These developments have led to several innovations in the cars of the future.
In spite of the innovations, the need for market research has remained constant. Automakers still need to predict consumer preferences and trends. The industry depends on these trends and tastes. The largest source of revenue for automakers is consumer sales. Market research into consumer behavior is thus a high priority for industry players.
Focus Groups in the Automotive Industry
A focus group is an excellent method of qualitative market research for the industry. This method is an efficient and inexpensive way to reach a large number of consumers. The researcher can also use it for other types of data gathering, such as polls and surveys. This can generate even more discussion, as participants debate or justify their rankings.
The Rise of Digital Disruption in Automotive Research
Connectivity and technology pose the question of whether it’s essential to own a vehicle. Ride-sharing is an obvious example. Consumers pay for the use of a car only as needed. However, they sacrifice the benefits (and responsibilities) of individual ownership. Another digital disruptor is autonomous vehicles, which are on the horizon. All these vehicles will come equipped with smart technologies. Automakers will have to rely on research to meet the changing needs of their consumers.
What are Car Clinics?
Decision Analyst describes car clinics as a beauty contest for vehicles. In this beauty contest, consumers serve as the judges. The automaker shows between four and eight competing brands and models to the consumer. These vehicles are placed in a showroom for consumers to view and provide feedback.
Automakers conduct car clinics at different times for varying purposes. The most common goal is assessing and learning how to improve new models. Another objective of conducting a car clinic is for product line optimization. Here the automaker displays all the different models of one brand for the consumer to test.
The Rise of New Methodologies
Technological advances have made it possible to take focus group research online. Web 2.0 and new technology platforms allow automakers to reach hard to contact consumers. Automakers also have new tools available to them. They can form groups with new and different configurations. They can also use online collaborative tools. These tools are not always available in face-to-face groups.
Another new method is eye tracking, which produces gaze trails and heat maps. Eye tracking provides valuable information on which products consumers are looking at. Some research companies are stepping it up a notch. They are conducting eye tracking exercises in virtual reality environments. Such a setting makes it easier to record participants’ physiological responses to products. Reactions include electrodermal activity, brain state, and so forth.
Benefits of Using Focus Groups for Market Research
The main benefits of using focus groups are:
- The time and money saved (compared to individual interviews)
- They are valuable for getting information on group and personal opinions
- They offer participants the chance to seek clarification
- They can provide a broader range of information
- They offer helpful material such as quotes for presentations and public relations publications
Because focus groups are condensed, automakers can use them to seek many views. They can also gauge reactions to various features of a product. The automaker can do all this without the time-intensive process of individual interviews. Saving time in the research phase of product development is critical. This is particularly true in the fast-developing automotive industry. A focus group allows an automaker to hasten the journey of a vehicle to the marketplace.