Finding a needle in a haystack: the market researcher’s challenge!

By Linda Findlay

A luxury automobile manufacturer wished to measure customer satisfaction with the design, performance and comfort of its top of the range vehicle model vis-à-vis that of a leading competitor who had recently entered the South African market.

On the face of it, this might have seemed like a pretty mainstream request.  However, with the basic cost of the vehicle exceeding ZAR 1.8 million, limited numbers of the vehicle model had been sold in South Africa.  It was essential, therefore, to position the study appropriately to achieve the maximum number of interviews possible.  BVA BDRC succeeded in conducting face to face interviews amongst a total of 30 customers.

The second part of the task was more of a challenge.  At the time of fieldwork, only 37 of the competitor’s targeted vehicle model had been sold in South Africa.  We did not have any information on where they had been sold.  We did not have a ‘client’ list to recruit from.  The local vehicle brand Owners’ Club, understandably, were non-co-operative.  And, we could not approach the local dealerships for a customer list when we were acting on behalf of their main competitor.

Nevertheless, through the tenacity, perseverance and networking skills of our team – together with just a hint of charm – we managed to identify and successfully interview 19 of the competitor’s customers!

The research findings ultimately were used not only to benchmark our client’s product, but to inform design improvements in the next generation of the vehicle model.