Sometimes, in brand research, one must continue to "peel back the onion" to better understand what the consumer is really saying. Recently, a client of mine (a heath care system) discovered that it was delivering well against convenience and accessibility. They discovered this through a quantitative brand equity measurement survey. Multiple data points pointed to this strength, including a variety of scaled response questions and some open-ended response questions.
What they didn't discover, however, is what this actually means. For that, they will need to "peel back the onion" through further research. For instance, in their industry, accessibility could mean any of the following:
- Convenient locations
- Convenient hours
- Convenient parking, including uncrowded parking, valet parking or free parking
- 24/7 accessibility in a non-hospital setting
- A wide variety of payment options, including installment payments
- A wide variety of insurances accepted including Medicare and Medicaid
- Accepting patients who cannot pay
- Short wait times
- Immediate access to doctors
- Easy access to patient records
- 24/7 waiting or lobby areas
- Quality on-site food
- Easy admissions process
- Clear wayfinding
- Easy website navigation
- Handicap accessibility such as parking spaces, ramps and elevators
- Accommodations for deaf and blind people
If this client wants to tout (and even enhance) its accessibility, it needs to know how it is perceived to be accessible. A marketer is very lazy if he or she stops at the concept of accessibility without exploring what that actually means. How else can he or she talk about it properly on behalf of the brand and how else would he or she know to whom this might have the greatest appeal?
When conducting brand research dig deep enough to fully understand what the customer is telling you. This may require "peeling back the onion" in a number of steps.