Usage and attitudes studies are a type of market research focusing on understanding how consumers use a product or service and their attitudes and perceptions towards it. Usage and attitudes studies are commonly known by the acronym U&A and are sometimes called “usage and satisfaction studies” and “usage and performance studies.”
Typically, teams within a company responsible for conducting usage and attitude studies are market research teams, product development teams, and marketing teams. These teams are responsible for gathering data, analyzing results, and making recommendations to the company based on their findings.
The research gathered from a usage and attitude study is used to make informed decisions about product development, marketing, and sales strategies. A brand may also conduct a usage and attitude study when launching a new product or service or considering making changes to an existing one. Additionally, a brand may conduct a usage and attitude study periodically to monitor changes in usage and perception over time.
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A U&A study typically involves a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods. The quantitative methods usually include multiple choice and closed-ended survey questions that are used to gather data on usage patterns and attitudes. Qualitative methods, such as focus groups and in-depth interviews, can provide insight into why users have certain attitudes and behaviors. U&A studies can be conducted on a specific target audience, such as current product users, or a broader population, such as all consumers in a particular market.
Various industries can use U&A studies to benefit their brands, including consumer goods, healthcare, technology, and services. They are often used in the early stages of product development to gather feedback on prototypes or concepts and in later stages to monitor ongoing performance and identify areas for improvement.
What is the history of U&A studies?
The history of usage and attitudes studies can be traced back to the early 20th century, with the first known study conducted by George Gallup in the 1930s during the early days of radio and television. Advertisers and broadcasters needed to understand how audiences used these new mediums and what they thought of the programming and advertisements.
The first U&A studies were relatively simple, typically involving a small sample of listeners or viewers who were asked to fill out a survey or participate in a focus group.
These early studies primarily focused on gathering information on listening or viewing habits, such as how often a program was listened to or watched and what types of programs were preferred. They also gathered information on demographics, such as age, gender, and occupation.
How do U&A studies help brands?
A well-conducted usage and attitudes study can help a brand in many ways. For example, it can provide valuable insights into consumer needs and preferences, allowing a company to better target its marketing efforts and develop products that meet those needs. It can also help identify potential issues with a product or service, allowing a company to address them before they become major problems.
Brands that use usage and attitudes studies want to gather information about how their products or services are being used and perceived by consumers. This information garnered from the research can then be used to make strategic decisions.
When should a brand NOT conduct a U&A study?
There are some potential reasons why a brand may choose to refrain from conducting a usage and attitude study.
- Cost: Usage and attitude studies can be expensive to conduct and may not be feasible for some brands with limited budgets.
- Lack of relevance: A brand needs to be more interested in understanding how its product or service is used and perceived. If not, there may be no solid reason for conducting a usage and attitude study.
- Limited sample size: If a brand has a small target audience, it may be difficult to obtain a representative sample for the study, which can limit the usefulness of the results.
- Limited resources: Conducting a usage and attitude study requires significant time and resources, and a brand may need more capacity to devote to the project.
- No changes planned: if a brand is happy with how its product or service is currently being used and perceived, it may not see the need to conduct a usage and attitude study.
A brand may also decide to conduct a different kind of research to give them the necessary information. Several types of research can be used instead of a usage and attitude study. Some examples include:
- Market understanding: This type of research focuses on understanding the market for a product or service, including information on the target audience, competitors, and overall market trends.
- User research: This type of research focuses on understanding how users interact with a product or service and can include user interviews, usability testing, and focus groups.
- Surveys: Surveys can be used to gather a wide range of information from a large number of people. Surveys can include closed-ended questions and open-ended questions.
- A/B testing: A/B testing allows brands to compare two versions of a product or service to see which one performs better.
- Analytics: Brands can use analytics tools to track user behavior, such as how often a product is used, how long users spend using it, and which features are most popular.
- Social Listening: This research focuses on tracking and analyzing what people say about a brand’s product or service on social media platforms, blogs, forums, and review sites.
Depending on the research question, a combination of different research methods may be used to get a comprehensive understanding of a brand’s product or service.
What does a U&A study typically look like?
A U&A study aims to collect information on the usage habits, attitudes, perceptions, and overall satisfaction of the target audience with a product or service. This type of research can provide valuable insights for a brand, such as identifying areas of improvement, developing new marketing strategies, and measuring the effectiveness of existing campaigns.
When conducting a usage and attitudes study, it is vital to have a clear research plan, recruit a representative sample of participants, and use appropriate research methods for collecting and analyzing data. It is also essential to be transparent about any limitations or potential sources of bias in the study.
The stages of conducting a usage and attitudes study typically include:
- Defining the research objectives and developing a research plan
- Identifying and recruiting participants
- Collecting data through surveys, focus groups, or interviews
- Analyzing the data and interpreting the results
- Communicating the findings and making recommendations for action
A typical usage and attitudes study will involve a sample of participants, usually between 100 and 500, depending on the size of the target market. The study can include a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods, such as surveys, focus groups, and interviews.
The length of a usage and attitudes study can vary depending on the research objectives, the size of the sample, and the research methods used. A typical study may take several weeks or months to complete.
Questions typically asked in a usage and attitudes study include:
- How often do you use the product/service?
- How satisfied are you with the product/service?
- What are the main benefits of the product/service?
What outcomes can a brand expect from a U&A study?
A brand can hope to gather several key insights from a usage and attitude study:
- Usage patterns: Information on how often, where, and why a product or service is being used, as well as the demographic characteristics of users.
- Attitudes and perceptions: Information on how users feel about a product or service, including their level of satisfaction, loyalty, and likelihood to recommend it to others.
- Brand awareness and perception: Information on how aware users are of the brand and what associations they have with it. (Also read “The essential guide to brand awareness research” here.)
- Purchase behavior: Information on where and how users purchase a product or service and the factors that influence their purchasing decisions.
- Competitive landscape: Information on how users perceive a brand’s products or services in comparison to those of competitors.
- Areas for improvement: Identifying areas where the product or service can be improved to better meet the needs and wants of users.
- Marketing effectiveness: Information on how well existing marketing campaigns and advertising efforts resonate with the target audience and how they can be improved.
Overall, a usage and attitude study can provide a brand with valuable insights on how to improve its product or service and how to better target its marketing efforts to reach its target audience.
Should I outsource my brand’s U&A study?
The advantages of conducting a usage and attitudes study in-house include:
- Direct access to company data and knowledge
- Greater control over the research process and ability to tailor the study to specific company needs
- Cost savings as no external agency is needed.
The disadvantages of conducting a usage and attitudes study in-house include:
- Limited resources and expertise in research methodology
- Lack of objectivity and potential for bias
- Limited sample size, which can affect the representativeness of the results
Outsourcing your brand’s U&A study to an external market research agency like Kadence International can bring in experts in research methodology and additional resources to help ensure a more accurate and representative study. We can help you determine if a U&A study is appropriate, fine-tune your research questions, and discover game-changing strategies for your brand.