Innovation

Combining Qualitative Research and Mystery Shopping To Test Brochures, Signage and Layout

A well-known bank wanted to understand the strengths and weaknesses of its brochures and of the signage and layout of its branches.

We designed a methodology that would give the client maximum research impact:

  • Understand the strengths/weaknesses of client brochures, signage, and layout,
  • And those of leading competitors,
  • From the perspective of the customers' own needs and experience. The following methodology is repeated in each of four markets.

  1. MYSTERY SHOPPING
    Respondents become "mystery shoppers" at assigned branches of the client and its two leading competitors. They are instructed to independently select a brochure at each branch on the topic/s most relevant to their needs, then review the brochures and fill out a checklist on the overall experience. They convene at a client branch - one half of the respondents for focus group discussion, then the other half for one-on-one interviews - bringing their checklists to refer to.

    The one-on-one and focus group sessions follow the same overall format; however the focus groups provide a discussion of the issues, drivers, and barriers involved; the one-on-one participants provide detail on an individual level.

  2. QUALITATIVE RESEARCH AGENDA

    A. Understand impact of signage, layout, brochure headings and overall design

    • Discussion of participants' textual and subtextual informational needs. What are the key needs, and why. Their process of seeking information; informational sources and channels. Do they even know their informational needs?

    • Debrief the experiences at the competitive branches. Probe the comparative impact on respondents of competitors' signage, layout, and brochures. In signage, which messages work best (i.e., caught attention, had impact) and why? Which layout is most inviting and why? Which brochures did they select and why (i.e., did the respondents find relevant brochures at each competitor or were headings confusing or misleading)? Which competitor brochures were more engaging?

    • In-depth application of findings to the client branch. Respondents apply these findings on-site, giving concrete examples of the strengths/weaknesses of experiencing the client branch as compared to the competitor branches. Probe: what they are seeing/missing in the client signage, its impact on them; layout ease and barriers; ease of sorting through client brochures and recognizing the ones that address their needs, impact of the main message.

    B. Evaluation of brochures

    • Respondents evaluate the client brochures and show how they compare to competitor brochures in clarity, readability, relevance, and usefulness in answering the reader's information needs. Probe strengths/weaknesses as a marketing tool. What if anything is missing; most persuasive messages and formats.

    • Evaluation of brochures in context. Discussion of the drivers and barriers in the total experience that persuade the respondents to decide to do business with the client or its competitors.

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