No organisation that’s serious about marketing can exist without constantly gauging potential consumers’ reactions to its products. Market research has always been an important part of our arsenal of weapons. In years gone by, this frequently meant undertaking lengthy and time-consuming visits to markets in places such as Wigan, Bolton and Rochdale where we were able to hang around with clipboards and interrogate passers-by.
Nowadays, technology means that the TMB can gather opinions almost at the touch of a button. We regularly issue consumer satisfaction surveys and are pleased to report that there has been a continued decline in the number of complaints we receive about tripe.
One area we have developed in recent years has been focus groups. These have been a feature of marketing since at least the 1970s, but fell into disrepute when Mr Blair used them to determine his policy manifesto of Sure Start centres, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and bombing Iraq. The TMB uses focus groups to find out what people really think about tripe, helping us tailor our marketing more precisely.
Participants are not paid to take part but they do receive a £25 Marks & Spencer voucher and as much free tripe as they can reasonably consume during the two hour sessions.
Unlike some meat-based marketing agencies, we don’t have huge budgets to spend on fancy advertising, so when we do invest in print promotion (or ‘splash the cash’ as the industry calls it), we need to ensure we get value for money.
Focus groups help the TMB hone its messages and finely-tune its advertising reach – as with these examples, each aimed at very different audiences.