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The Importance of Market Research
What the customers want
I was recently browsing online for article ideas when I came across a forum that caught my interest. It was used by regular "Vapers" and had a thread discussing what they wanted from the manufactures of e-cigarettes and the liquids used within them.
As I read on, I was amazed to find how simple and straight forward some of the requests were, and was amazed that more suppliers hadn’t already figured out what their customers truly wanted from them in terms of the pre-purchase experience.
Surely these companies have done their market research, and should know already what people expect from them if they wish to sell, so I looked at some of the more prominent e-cig suppliers in the UK to see how they measured up with what these customers were asking for.
Although some ticked several of the boxes, not one of them seemed to do all that the customers were calling for, and I am not talking about things that could cost a lot of money to do either…
So I got to thinking, that this doesn’t just apply to e-cig and e-liquid sites (Although obviously some of the points do) – how many other types of businesses loose sales because they aren’t delivering on simple ideas that could reassure their customer base?
Lets look at some of the requests below:
For example, one of the first points raised by the forum members was,
"I would like to see a picture or some type of visual cue as to where your e-liquid is being mixed. I am not asking to know the secrets to the bat-cave, but I would like to know that there is a bat-cave, and not just a living-room."
This is a surprisingly simple request, and sure, technically companies could "cheat" and post a stock image of some sort of production area, and the customer would be none the wiser, but that isn’t quite the point, the point is that people like to feel that they know where the item they are buying is coming from, it helps build confidence in your consumer as it makes them feel that you have nothing to hide from them. As the poster said, they aren’t asking for trade secrets, but just an idea of the sort of environment used.
Another point that was made over and over, which actually kind of stunned me, is exclusive to producers of things that rely on taste to sell, like the e-liquids, or food items – and that was the cry for a better description of the flavour of the product.
The comments were all of a similar vein, these are just a few of the many I saw:
"Some vendors show no description at all - just the juice name - and I'm not going to buy from them. I need to have a good idea of what they're actually selling."
"Good point! I am with you on that one; I never order unless I have an idea of the flavour. It is silly that we would have to ask such a simple thing!"
"No need to give away the secret formula, but i need a way to know what to expect from a juice. I'm not willing to part with my hard earned money if I don't know what I'm getting...and "this juice is sure to please" is not good enough..."
The more I thought about this, the more I realised it was true, on a lot of the sites I had looked at as research, there was the "this is a sure crowd pleaser" type comment from the manufacturer, which lets face it, is pretty useless if you want to know what you are getting – tastes vary from person to person, and in the vaping world, there are different ratio’s and mixes that can all affect the flavour hit that the user gets, but surely there are better ways to describe the product. If it has subtle fruity undertones, say that, if there is a hint of smokiness, tell people, give them some way to visualise the tastes they can expect.
Another valid point was asking for the list of ingredients, as this particular poster had a sensitivity to one of the common components of the e-liquids available,
"I would like to see more information about ingredients posted on their website. I'm not talking about the "formula" for their particular juice, just a general idea of what is in it; additives, purity of ingredients, etc."
"This point is strictly selfish and I don't know how costly it is...but...for those of us that are PG sensitive...Very few vendors offer samplers that I can take advantage of because of the mixture. I end up having to purchase a bottle of each flavour. It's kind of a bummer because there's probably flavours I might have liked but can't afford to order a bottle of each. It kills me because most vendors will send you free samples which I can smell but not vape because too much PG. I did receive an order last week from a vendor that sent me all VG samples...it was GREAT! So vendors ...if a customer orders all VG juice could you be nice and send all VG freebies...you might be surprised what happens if we can actually vape them, I don't CARE if their 0mg...I just want to TRY them...Thanks!"
Again, not a call for secrets or ratio’s, just a heads up to what is in the product they will be receiving to allow them to make an educated decision as to if it would be suitable for them.
Many of the other posts also pointed out that samples be them "drip-samples" or 3-5ml bottles would probably increase the chances of them ordering as there are so many flavours available, it is hard to know which flavours, even with a detailed description of the flavour, they will enjoy.
It could be particularly helpful to new vapours who can struggle given number of vendors, having a company send out samples...of various size, what nicotine level, pg/vg ratio, etc may well help their decision making process. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but just shows how a little thought may make a big difference to your businesses profits, and shows just how important it really is to do your market research correctly.
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