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Gathering fast consumer insights with UserTesting: the coffee study

Hannah Alvarez  |  June 30, 2015

What does coffee have to do with user experience? Both be researched with the same tools. Consumer insights research is one of the lesser-known (but super powerful!) uses of UserTesting. While most of our customers use our mobile recorder to study the user experience of mobile websites and apps, the platform can also be used to study experiences beyond devices. That means you can learn how consumers interact with physical products and brands—no website or app required.

To show what you can do with this type of research, we conducted a study to learn about consumers’ preferences for the coffee they make at home.

Our consumer insights study

For this study, we put ourselves in the shoes of a coffee company doing some market research on the behaviors and opinions of folks who make their coffee at home.

We weren’t focused on the user experience of a product, rather, we wanted to capture insights and nuances of how consumers make their coffee at home and how they choose the brands they buy.

Setting up the study

We set up a study with 20 participants living in the United States. To make sure we were only including the appropriate target market, we also screened for people who make their own coffee at home at least once a month.

For our test plan, we wrote a series of survey-style multiple-choice questions, like “How often do you make coffee at home?” and “Which brand of coffee do you buy most often to make at home?”

We also gave test participants certain tasks that instructed them to open the camera on their phone and show us where they make their coffee. This gave us a richer context for how people feel about their coffee-making habits than we would have gotten through a survey alone.

Collecting the insights

After launching our study, we got our results back in a little under an hour.

In our dashboard, we were able to see the breakdown of responses to the multiple-choice questions at a glance, which helped us identify trends and outliers. We could zero in on portions of the video that seemed particularly interesting. We could quickly see how many participants selected each possible answer.

By asking test participants to speak their thoughts aloud from the comfort of their own kitchen, we got in-depth explanations of why they answered the survey questions the way they did.

What can you do with this type of research?

Get insights on how consumers use an existing product

If you’re marketing an existing product, you can find out:

  • What words your target customer would use to describe your product or your brand
  • How they would describe your competitors
  • Why they prefer one company over another
  • The context for how they use your product

From there, you can make connections to gain actionable insights. Using our coffee study as an example, you could investigate questions like: Do coffee drinkers who make a full pot of coffee choose different brands than those who only make a cup at a time? Do those who make coffee every day base their purchase decision on different factors than those who only make coffee a few times a month?

Conduct market research for a new product

When you’re researching how to market a brand-new product, you can find out:

  • Whether your target customer already sees a need for your product
  • How they could imagine the product fitting into their lives
  • How they feel about similar, existing products

The answers to these questions will help you develop an effective strategy for introducing the new product to the market.

Dig into demographic trends

If you’re trying to uncover trends in how customers of different demographics interact with your product or your brand, you can run the same study with different segments.

For example, to compare how men and women view your product differently, you might choose to run two separate studies: one with 20 men and one with 20 women. This would make it easy to compare results from the two demographics.

Maybe you’ve struggled to win over a particular segment of the market. You can conduct a study to have participants from that demographic explain how they feel about your brand, which competitors they prefer, and what qualities are important to them when they make their purchase decision.

Add context to existing data

If you’ve already been conducting surveys or other research on how consumers feel about your brand, you’ve probably uncovered a lot of interesting trends already. Now, you can run a small UserTesting study to fill in some of the context about why people do the things they do.

A study with just five participants can give you a lot of additional insights, since participants have the freedom to explain their thoughts aloud and show you how they interact with products in their homes. It’ll give you a clearer picture of how a product fits into their lives than you would get through surveys alone.

For example, one of the participants in our study said she buys generic store brand coffee because the real flavor in her morning cuppa comes from her French Vanilla Coffee-Mate.

Without the video of the participant speaking her thoughts aloud, we would know that she buys the store brand, but we wouldn’t know why.

Uncover creative use cases

Not all of your customers use your product in the traditional way! A UserTesting consumer insights study will help you find unusual use cases that can spark innovation for marketing campaigns and product development.

In our coffee study, one participant walked us through her favorite recipe: coffee with butter and coconut oil.

By finding out how consumers use your product in non-traditional ways, you can identify niches within your customer base and find creative ways to market your product to them.

Get competitive insights

Did one of your competitors just unveil a hot new product? Before you rush to follow in their footsteps, you can do some exploratory research to see how consumers are interacting with the product… especially what they dislike about using it. This can be a great opportunity for you to frame your product as the solution to that unmet need.

Cut down your research time

If you’re currently relying on large surveys and focus groups to gain your consumer insights, you’re probably used to taking weeks or months to get results. By incorporating UserTesting into your research plan, you can start getting insights in hours instead.

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About the author:

Hannah is a content manager, dedicated to helping marketers and designers build amazing experiences. In her free time, she likes making things and going on adventures.