Going beyond skin-deep emotions

How market research helped one of India’s largest fast-moving consumer goods company to uncover what people want yet don’t wish to say

By IMRB, a leading worldwide market research company.


Identify the emotional need spaces for women

One of India’s largest FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies approached IMRB to help them understand the primary needs and emotions that drive Indian women to use skincare and beauty products. The business objective of the study was to identify the possible opportunity spaces that exist in the category, whom to target through their brands and what can be their possible positioning platforms.


Qualitative and quantitative research

The challenge was to unveil the true motivations and feelings of Indian women within the framework of quantitative research. To achieve this, the principles of projective techniques were adopted and modified to suit the quantitative nature of the study. The projective technique was used in conjunction with the max-diff technique to create the need elicitation framework that was used for this study. Every women was shown about 20 sets of emotional motivations in a randomized manner.

The responses were then used to form the emotional need spaces of the Indian women in the skincare category. Instead of standard segmentation techniques, a new technique called Non-Negative Matrix Factorization was used to arrive at the need spaces. This technique was used since it looked not just at differences between preferences of each woman but also at the interplay between different motivations while forming the segments.

So what?

Understanding of the user motivations and formulation of product portfolio and strategy

The emotions that defined each segment helped in identifying possible positioning platforms and communication cues. The interplay of different categories and presence of brands suggested whether there was any opportunity to enter the need space.

The need spaces were presented to the client in form of two-minute collage videos of popular movies and ads that best brought alive the motivations of the segment. This helped the client envisage and visualize the segments better and these videos also served as the creative brief for the media agencies while creating the product communication. The client is now developing products and communication for the chosen need spaces. Adaptation of the projection to sophisticated analytical tools like Choice Modelling and NMF can be used effectively in large scale social projects concerning various topics from premarital sex and AIDS to opinions about presidential candidates, revealing the true feelings that people may not be willing to express if asked directly.