With innovation at the heart of everything we do here in Eolas International, we are continuously seeking new ways to gather market and product intelligence for our clients. In 2018, we highlighted the importance of including consumers in the conversation around product quality and now as we enter 2019, we look to tap into a rich and inherent source of product and market intelligence that every company has at it fingertips: our greatest asset – our employees.
With the combined wealth of industry and product knowledge that employees have within each and every organisation, companies are missing an opportunity by not harvesting and analysing this information in an aim to improve their products, services and customer experiences. This opportunity does not relate to products alone. Where employees are empowered with the tools to feedback their thoughts and opinions in a quick and easy manner, no topic is off limits. What do our employees think about Product Quality, User Experience and New Product Development given that they interact with our products & services daily? How about Messaging & Communications and experiences with E-Commerce? Employees, through the Eolas customisable mobile platform, can offer information on your products or industry and those of your competitors within a few short steps. Considering employees as consumers outside of the working environment, we now have quick, cost effective and easy access to consumer research on our products.
This mobile solution can reach every employee through their smartphone and with quick and easy access can open up a two way communication flow in an instant. Empowering employees with this tool allows for ideas and information to flow freely throughout the business and can help employees to feel more connected. Information that would previously have been undisclosed, or lost when an employee moves on, can now be stored in one central database, categorised for easy access, into a knowledge hub that can be used to identify market and product opportunities within your organisation.
This solution offers a cost effective and complimentary service to that of consumer research, along with some additional benefits in its own right. Consider the time and cost associated with conducting consumer research. The number of touchpoints a consumer may have with your product are limited:
- The consumer locates the product in store
- They purchase the product
- They use the product
Conversely, when we look at the number of potential touch points your employees may have, from factory floor to finished product that number increases significantly. Consider the worker on the factory floor who notices a packaging issue or a merchandiser in store that notices an eye catching promotional display of a competitor. Not to mention those brand loyal employees who purchase and consume your products on a regular basis. What do they think of the user experience, cooking instructions, packaging, messaging & communications? Have they noticed an industry trend that poses an opportunity for your business or category? What about their experiences through e-Commerce? The sheer volume of information available through your greatest assets could be the key to identifying business issues and opportunities that inhibit or drive growth within your business.
In 2018, Eolas International conducted an in house pilot of this new service and collected data on product quality, product usage, trends & innovations, in store experience and E-Commerce. Employees were not directed to report on any category or industry in particular, the desire was to test what feedback employees would organically give with minimal instruction. The results were interesting indeed. Observations spanned across dairy products, meat products, lifestyle and fitness, personal care items government services and free-from foods.
Product quality observations were made mostly in relation to open packs, damaged boxes, torn labels and faulty reseals of which 68% had a negative impact on purchase intent. When we looked at product usage which included issues around poor package design, usage difficulty and poor service, only 38% of those experiences had a negative impact on purchase intent. This may suggest a greater brand loyalty when consumers evaluate a product post purchase and a greater acceptability of product issues, highlighting that while the consumer may be happy to repurchase the product, they are not necessarily having the optimal consumer experience as the company intended.
For those concerned with the FMCG/CPG categories, equally interesting is the feedback on observed trends & innovations in the market. Of particular interest to our Eolas colleagues were trends in relation to new products, new product lines, new market segments and packaging innovations, with 78% of observed trends & innovations encouraging observers to make a purchase. Given the fast moving nature of these segments, having access to rapid feedback and observations and understanding their appeal to consumers will allow companies to respond to market trends quicker and with more success.
Not without its challenges, the Employee View platform needs careful planning and consideration in order to bring value to the organisation. For instance, some employees may not feel naturally inclined to engage with such an initiative but a well-supported implementation plan and structured communications activities, can result in valuable insights for your organisation
Consider the (untapped) bank of knowledge available to you, already within your organisation, if employees were given the tools to feedback in a systematic and meaningful way. As professionals in your arena these employees will have invaluable feedback and insight into your product and industry that will help your company to identify product improvements and opportunities as well as identifying future trends before your competitors. A cost effective and speedier addition to consumer research, Employee View, by connecting with employees and giving them a voice, could become the most powerful tool available to you and your business.