With more options available than ever before, consumers will not hesitate to change brands if their expectations are not met. Identifying the nuances of fickle consumer attitudes is a key goal of modern consumer research. The benefits can be twofold: identifying why consumers are dissatisfied with a competitor can help a brand adjust to fill unmet needs, and identifying why consumers are moving to a competitor can help a brand identify and shore up weaknesses through marketing and product development adjustments.
But traditional consumer research methods are not well-suited to the speed of change in modern consumer attitudes. Companies that want to stay informed are utilizing AI-based consumer research methods to analyze how their brand is faring in comparison to competitors and make agile adjustments as the need arises.
Read on to learn about 3 ways consumer research powered by AI is giving savvy brands an edge in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
The conversation around brands and products has shifted to social media, and it is essential that consumer research is able to glean insights from the conversation on a variety of platforms.
Sentiment analysis, an AI-based social listening tool that analyzes the emotional content and opinions expressed in text or images, can help companies get an accurate sense of how their brand is being discussed relative to competing brands on a variety of platforms.
While it is valuable to understand the share of the volume of total mentions each competing company is getting on a social media platform like Instagram, mentions do not tell the whole story.
For example, NetBase Quid AI utilizes sentiment analysis to provide Net Sentiment and Passion Intensity ratings to each brand. These ratings assign numerical scores that track how positive or negative the sentiment expressed in mentions of a brand is, as well as how strong opinions were expressed.
So, while a company might be receiving 60% of mentions, they also might trail less frequently mentioned competitors in Net Sentiment or Passion Intensity ratings. Comparing the companies’ social media activity and the tone of their messaging can lead to an understanding of why one company is connecting more with customers despite a less visible presence.
This kind of consumer research might help the less visible company scale up by leaning into strengths and avoiding problem areas, or it might help the more visible company utilize its higher profile in a more effective way by adjusting its messaging.
2.) Track Changes in Consumer Attitudes Over Time
One of the key benefits of consumer research powered by AI is that it can analyze large data sets at speeds that would be impossible to accomplish manually.
Rather than conduct time-consuming surveys or focus groups, companies using tools such as sentiment analysis can run several analyses of online content over a relatively short time frame to track subtle changes in consumer attitudes. This is helpful when assessing the effectiveness of a newly instituted campaign or newly launched product, and it is helpful when assessing the success, or lack thereof, of competitors’ recently launched campaigns and products.
3.) Understand the Big Picture of Media Coverage
Social media is a crucial avenue to explore when conducting consumer research and competitor analyses, but a well-rounded approach should also track online news coverage.
The same AI-based tools that use techniques such as natural language processing and text analysis to identify the positive or negative tone of social media posts can be applied to identify the positive or negative tone of articles from news outlets posted online.
Analyzing news outlets using social listening tools can tell a company how it is being covered relative to competitors. As with social media, merely understanding the volume of coverage would not cover the whole story. Consumer research on news coverage should utilize sentiment analysis to not just assess how much a company is covered, but also what the tone of that coverage is.
This process can help a company assess how successful a competitor’s damage control campaign is as the media covers a visible scandal. It could also be more subtle, tracking slight differences in positive or negative sentiment ratings of the coverage of a company and competitors. Or a company can use sentiment analysis to identify the articles with the highest and lowest ratings, both of their own company and of competitors. Understanding these extremes helps companies lean into strengths and avoid weaknesses.
Consumer Research in a Competitive Market
These three uses of AI-based consumer research tools are available to companies regardless of industry. The key is that these tools help companies understand the competition so they can set themselves apart. As tools such as sentiment analysis continue to gain widespread adoption, those companies who proactively build consumer research strategies around the technology stand to benefit from a competitive edge.