In times of economic change and uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to have robust, up-to-date insight on which to base business decisions. 

Gaining and maintaining a deep understanding of your sector, target audience and teams can lead to increased satisfaction, loyalty and retention, contributing to profit maximisation.

Our insight team at Mobas supports clients across a range of sectors, both B2B and B2C, in answering their key business questions such as:

  • What are the latest trends and consumer behaviours in my market? 
  • What do consumers expect from my brand? What are the opportunities and threats? 
  • How can we ensure that a campaign delivers strong return on investment (ROI) for the target audience? 

There are a wide range of research techniques and approaches that can be used to answer these questions. But with so many options available, it can be hard to know where to start.

In this ‘how to’ guide, we focus on the following areas:

  • How can research help answer these business challenges? 
  • Which techniques are most appropriate for your specific need?
  • How should you go about choosing an insight partner?


If you’re entering a new business area or territory, launching a new product or service, refreshing your brand portfolio, or exploring a new target audience, you’ll need to gain a deeper understanding of audience needs, behaviours and attitudes.

The approaches we use most often with clients to understand category trends and behaviours are:

Existing insight review

Drawing on customer and business performance data, competitor analysis and category reports to provide broader context and in-depth understanding of category behaviours and trends. This may give the answers you need or identify gaps or areas of interest to focus on in further research.

Usage and attitudes surveys

Often conducted online, these quantitative surveys give robust data on who is buying your product / competitor products, how often, and why, as well as how consumers feel about your brand and the category. This can be used to provide deep understanding of category behaviours, measure the size of the market, or identity the key motivations and barriers to purchase.

Qualitative workshops and depth interviews

Conducted by a skilled moderator, these qualitative techniques provide detailed insight into how consumers think, feel and act in your sector. Group discussions work well for generating ideas and debate, whereas individual interviews are better suited to more personal issues or delving into individual experiences in greater depth. These can be conducted either face-to-face or online.

Qualitative accompanied shops

This ethnographic technique involves asking pre-recruited consumers to visit a store and browse the aisle in the way they normally would. A trained researcher observes their behaviour in detail, keeping interaction to a minimum to ensure behaviour is as natural as possible. This is followed by a post-shop interview to provide further detail on reasons for behaviours. This technique provides deep, in-the-moment insights into how consumers navigate the category and make purchase decisions. 

Key points to consider 

Future-proofing a brand portfolio 


We recently used a combination of these techniques to support a manufacturer of gardening products in refreshing its brand portfolio. Our holistic approach included a review of existing category insight and sales data; an online survey to understand attitudes and purchase behaviours; and in-store accompanied shops to view behaviours in-the-moment. This combination provided deep insight upon which to make decisions about which brands to prioritise to meet the future needs of gardeners.


We took this insight into a strategic workshop with the client team, where we identified which brands to prioritise going forward. We supported the client in producing updated pack designs for a rebranded product range, which were tested in further research prior to launch.

This insight-led approach to brand rationalisation gave the client the confidence in making portfolio decisions and having discussions with retail partners.


Having a clear and up-to-date understanding of how your brand is perceived, what consumers need and expect, and how they feel about your competitors, will enable you to make informed decisions about how to prioritise investment. 

There are several common approaches to brand and customer research:

Ongoing brand health pulse surveys

Conducting regular quantitative surveys among a representative sample of your target audience provides an ongoing view of the health of your brand. Using a set of repeatable questions to measure brand awareness, consideration and attitudes, this approach provides robust data on the impact of any changes (e.g. new product or campaign launches, or negative news stories). Your brand is benchmarked against key competitors to identify key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. 

Ongoing customer pulse surveys

Using a similar approach to the above, but focusing on your current customers, can provide clear insight on how they are experiencing your brand, whether you’re delivering on expectations, and what steps you should take to increase loyalty and purchase frequency. Surveys should be repeated regularly to monitor the ongoing impact of any changes you make.

Qualitative ‘deep dive’ workshops

Qualitative group sessions (sometimes known as focus groups) can be used to dig deeper into how consumers feel about your brand. These can be either stand-alone or used in conjunction with ongoing brand and customer research. These sessions focus on the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how many’. These can be used to focus on specific issues in greater depth - for example, understanding why brand consideration has decreased (as measured on a brand health survey), or exploring consumer views on a new challenger brand.

Customer and market segmentation

Segmentation involves dividing your target audience or customer base into distinctive groups, based on differing behaviours, needs and experiences. Segments can be developed using existing information from your customer database, or quantitative research – ideally combining the two to gain in-depth data on attitudes as well as purchase behaviours. This insight can be used to deliver more relevant products, services and marketing campaigns, increasing ROI.


Keeping the customer at the heart of decision-making

Financial Services-6

As the long-term brand partner to a regional building society, we draw on a range of techniques to ensure that consumer needs and expectations are central to their business decisions. 

Using a combination of existing customer data and ad hoc quantitative research, we developed segments to enable the client to understand and meet the differing needs of their customers. This enables them to target products and campaign messaging more effectively.

Strategic Insights 850x600

We also conduct regular pulse surveys to measure brand awareness and associations among the target audience. This provides an ongoing view of the impact of marketing activity, identifying any changes required.


Putting consumers at the heart of the creative development process ensures that campaigns are relevant, salient and engaging for the intended audience, and deliver the intended messages and actions. 

Further research following a campaign launch will establish whether the campaign worked as expected and provide learnings for future campaigns.

Insight-led campaign development and evaluation can increase ROI and effectiveness.

The main research techniques to support creative development and evaluation are:

Insight generation / co-creation sessions

Using qualitative techniques and conducted by an experienced moderator, small groups of consumers are involved in the creative process. This can include generating insights on which to base the campaign (for example, identifying key purchase barriers and addressing them in the campaign messaging), or directly involving consumers in developing and responding to early creative ideas and stimuli.

Creative testing

This can be useful at two stages: testing of early-stage ideas, messages and visuals prior to further development, to guide decisions around which routes to take forward; or testing of near final campaign stimulus prior to launch, to check it’s working as intended and identify any final areas of optimisation. Creative testing can be done either qualitatively (e.g. through a consumer workshop) or quantitatively (e.g. through an online survey), depending on the specific questions to answer.

Pre / post campaign launch research

Quantitative surveys among the target audience can be conducted prior to launching a new campaign. This sets a benchmark against which to set targets, for example, increasing brand awareness or purchase intention. The survey is then repeated following launch, to understand progress against these goals and identify any changes required to maximise impact and ROI.

Holistic data dashboards

These provide real-time data on the overall performance and impact of the campaign. Combining multiple data sources such as campaign performance (overall and split by channel / creative), business and sales data, and research data (such as campaign recall and brand awareness) is a powerful tool for identifying areas for optimisation and taking immediate action.


A collaborative approach to campaign  

NHS Healthcare-2

We have worked directly with the LGBTIQ+ community on several healthcare campaigns, knowing that the community has previously rejected mainstream healthcare campaigns as not reflecting their lived experience. Using qualitative co-creation sessions, we brought the voice of the community directly into the creative process. Their views and experiences were used to develop the messages, images and creative style of the campaigns, culminating in members of the community featuring in the final creative. 

NHS Healthcare-7

This collaborative approach ensured that we delivered a campaign which was engaging and relevant to the target audience. A recent campaign using paid and organic channels resulted in strong engagement levels, in spite of a modest budget.

Now that you understand how to use research and insight to support your key business challenges, you may wish to select an independent insight partner to undertake the research for you

This offers advantages over conducting it in-house: saving you time, providing an objective, outside perspective, and ensuring that the research is conducted by specialists.

Here are some tips for how to get started with your research:

  • Provide a clear brief: this does not have to be prescriptive (e.g. a particular sample size or methodology), but should clearly set out your priorities for the research. What are the key business questions you wish to answer? Which audiences do you wish to involve? How will the findings of the research be used? It’s also useful to give an idea of budget and timescale available for the research since this may impact the recommended approach.

  • Choose a research partner with relevant expertise and a strong track record: it’s important to ensure that you work with a partner who has experience in your particular audience, sector or research methodology, and works to a high-quality standard. They should also have knowledge of relevant legislation and best practice around data protection. Mobas has experience across a wide range of sectors, regularly conducting research with consumers and business leaders. Mobas is a Market Research Society Company Partner. This means that we’ve been through a robust accreditation process, and that all our team members follow a Code of Conduct when conducting research. This means our clients can rest assured that our research is conducted to the highest-quality standards. 

  • Have an informal chat: as well as credentials, it’s important to ensure that you have good ‘chemistry’ with your insight partner, and that they fully understand your business and what matters most to you. The Mobas team would be delighted to chat with you about how we can work together.

We hope this guide has been informative and inspired you to start your insight journey. We would love to offer you a complimentary session with one of our insight experts. This is an opportunity to ask us for advice on how to use insight to answer any specific business questions that you may have.

If you’d like to book a free, no obligation session, please fill in the form below and a member of our team will get back to you.