Is virtual now the best tool for gaining authentic consumer insights?

Is virtual now the best tool for gaining authentic consumer insights?

Vodafone Smart Tech, the arm of Vodafone behind innovations like the Neo smart kids watch and the V-Pet Tracker, has adopted Zoom permanently as a tool for gaining consumer insights.

Speaking at the Just.Marketing conference in partnership with The Creative Marketing Council, Vodafone Smart Tech Chief Marketing Officer Pamela Brown revealed that Zoom interviews with consumers in their own homes during the pandemic had revealed more authentic insights than in-person interviews out of the home.

The finding has meant the company will adopt Zoom and other virtual communications platforms for such research permanently.

Pamela said, “We’re just researching new products at the moment and running labs through Zoom. More people can listen in not just the product team or marketing team – it’s wonderful – so we will definitely continue that.”

The finding came as Vodafone Smart Tech adopted Zoom for its consumer insights research during the 2020 lockdowns in the UK. The previous year, a new product proposition – its new smart GPS tracker, Curve – had been built and the brand was planning an overhaul but the pandemic stymied those plans, revealed Pamela.

The relaunch had been planned for April 2020, just a few weeks after the first national lockdowns came into force across Europe.

Pamela and her team, who describe themselves as “customer obsessed”, said one of the key takeaways from the pandemic has been the need to “understand consumers deeply and show relevance in their lives.”

She said, “Key to success was our relentless focus on the consumer. If we weren’t completely customer obsessed we wouldn’t have got to where we are [with Curve]”.

The lockdown forced the team to pause, step back, and start to hone in on customer sentiment.

National UK consumer studies revealed three concerns of paramount importance during the pandemic: “The economy, their health and their family. They didn’t want to hear from brands that didn’t reflect their situation,” she said.

The Curve is a GPS tracker designed to enable users to keep track of pets, children, cars, laptops, and so on, when out of the home.

Launching an out-of-home tracking device while people were confined to their homes was far from relevant. So the team focused on emotional elements and launched after the first lockdowns eased.

Pamela said, “As we spent more and more time with consumers, we realised that as restrictions eased and markets came out of lockdown and experience of being disconnected from people and wanting to get out and about… [it] was actually a better time to launch.”