It's not that demographics are passé-far from it. But a different kind of market research-the use of anthropologists and sociologists to analyze customer thoughts and behaviors-is making waves these days.
Nontraditional market research enlists anthropologists or sociologists to interview your customers, helping you hone future marketing campaigns. Why is the concept taking hold? Because business owners need to know why consumers buy what they do and how much they're willing to pay. "It provides deeper insights into the mind of the customer," explains Gerald Zaltman, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School in Boston who studies the whys of consumer behavior.
Zaltman knows whereof he speaks. Among other research for clients, he's discovered exactly how women feel about pantyhose. He asked respondents to bring him pictures that represented their feelings about pantyhose. (According to Zaltman, it turns out they have a "like-hate" relationship with the oft-slandered legwear.)
Intrigued? To find anthropologists or sociologists who specialize in nontraditional research, Zaltman recommends checking out the American Marketing Association Directory.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to use nontraditional market research instead of just gathering raw data is that it puts you smack-dab in the middle of your customers' thoughts. And if you want to sell more products to more clients, that's exactly where you need to be.