Why it’s useless to wait with customer surveys until “it’s over”

All industries are now seeking to adapt as good as they can to the challenges that a tiny sting of DNA is posing to all of us. Some very successfully, some less so. It’s good to see that my own area, the CX / UX research community, has very effectively changed their toolbox to accommodate the requirements of working (and running research) from a distance.

During the recent status call with my colleagues at UX Fellows, all of them said they had successfully switched to remote UX testing, remote IDIs, and even remote ethnographic research. And all fellows, who are from regions like Brazil, USA, Europe, Russia, Singapore or Australia, agreed that their clients and participants accept qualitative remote research pretty well. Quantitative research has already been online-only for a while and isn’t affected anyway.

However, one topic that I do discuss with my clients now isn’t the feasibility of remote research. It is its validity, that is, what the insights we get mean, what they stand for and how long their meaning will last.

Questions we are discussing are:

  • Will participants only talk about the corona situation? Will all insights be overshadowed by the exceptional situation?
  • Are participants able to remember how they would have answered, how they behaved or felt before the crisis?
  • Can we observe natural behavior at all, given the “unnatural” situation?

In the past few weeks I got to think that these are perhaps the wrong questions to ask. It seems more and more evident that we won’t return to a pre-Corona state as we knew it.

Many countries have been in lockdown for six or more weeks now. After most businesses and private persons found themselves in a state of shock after the sudden onset of the events, they tried to orient themselves and took immediate measures to safeguard both, their physical and economic health. Many businesses stopped their non-vital spendings (e.g. for customer research) altogether.

We can, however, assume that this phase is over now. We are adapting to the new situation, check out new business opportunities and possibilities to live with the virus. In fact, it seems that many are accepting the fact that the virus will still stay with us for a while and that there will be a new normal once it’s gone.

What does this mean for customer research?

It doesn’t make much sense waiting with customer surveys until the spell is over, because we are not going back to a world before Corona. Since the shock phase is over, we can also assume that customers are able to tell us how they feel, what they need and what they deem relevant for the next time to come.

  • Corona is a technological catalyzer which speeds up tech adoption and change in usage patterns
  • Digitization shortcomings and pain points, e.g. with a paper-based bureaucracy are becoming strikingly clear
  • Special needs of people will persist, like the lack of personal encounters, solitude, financial sorrows and other existential problems
  • There seems to be a shift in values going on, e.g. regarding sustainability. Many are thinking about how they can support their local shops, restaurants and communities now for example.
  • In the long run, we can assume that many customer behaviors will change, e.g. regarding travel, work, shopping, communication. We can see the beginning of those changes now.

That means that now is the right time to understand this new normal. We should use the customer-centric research tools we have to proactively design it.

Sociodemography is only able to reflect today’s reality to a limited extent

Even if we consider people of identical age, place of residence, education and income, they “tick” completely differently. Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne are one classic example; another, more recent one would be Matthias Schweighöfer versus Sido. We are dealing here with completely different personalities, with individual attitudes, values and motives and the behavioural patterns resulting therefrom. Socio-demographic characteristics alone say little about their living conditions, consumer behaviour or product preferences.

Values or motivators offer much better insights into buying behaviour

Purchase decisions no longer depend on age and gender, i.e. socio-demographic factors – they are far more significantly influenced by the values that are important to a person and their motivations for acting. Psychography, which studies the motives behind human behaviour, is a tried and tested approach from the field of personality psychology that has been researched for decades. Buying behaviour is also influenced by such behavioural motives, and can be predicted to a certain extent if these motives are known. If a person is more performance-oriented, they react more strongly to advertising motifs that emphasise the performance of a product or the results that can be achieved with it.

Like people, brands also have values that represent them to the outside world and make them appear unique. Consumers associate brands with these values, either consciously or unconsciously. Brand values can be controlled and strengthened with communication measures.

Health and joie de vivre determine our buying behaviour, as do performance and luxury as well as many other values. The scientific concept behind this behavior is called self-congruity. Self-congruity is reflected in the fact that consumers prefer brands that reflect their own set of values. For example, Miele stands for quality and appeals to a specific clientele with its performance claim, while Dyson stands for innovation and creativity and thus addresses a different clientele.

New approaches to media planning make it possible to address these values and motives in a targeted manner – and thus avoid excluding potential buyers only because, for example, they do not belong to a specific age group or gender. In this sense, media environments and creations are also associated with values. A high value fit between people, brand, message and media maximizes the effect of communication and strengthens brand values.

ValueSphere: what is important to me

With our in-house ValueSphere model, these brand values and the target audience are identified. In order to differentiate itself as much as possible from the competition, an individual value profile is created from the customer’s point of view. To this end, the value profile of the brand and the strengths and weaknesses in comparison to the competition must be assessed. At the same time, advertising environments such as websites, magazines and TV stations and programmes are divided into the same value system in order to identify the media environments that perfectly match the brand or product. In this way, coherent results can be achieved, in which advertising not only fits in better with the environment, but also achieves a higher impact. Psychographic targeting defines appropriate personas for each brand or product that work independently of age, gender, or other socio-demographic characteristics, and that are defined by their values and motives. This motivational and situational approach necessitates the creation of different advertising motifs, each appealing to a specific behavioural motivation. As sociodemography loses relevance, media must change drastically in terms of not only planning but creation, shifting its focus to the development of spots and motifs tailored to individual personas.


It’s high time for media planning to change its views. The stereotypes of the past (men are interested in cars, women in cosmetics; young people are modern and open-minded, older people traditional and old-fashioned) are no longer useful. Today’s world is much more complex; people are more and more individual, and social groups are increasingly connected through common values and goals. If advertising is to reach the right people in the future, the entire advertising industry must abandon the concept of sociodemography as the most important criterion.


Alongside the Super Bowl, FIFA’s football World Cup is one of the world’s largest commercialised sporting events. Considering the enormous sponsoring costs, before the competition FACIT Research used a representative sample from an online study to investigate the impact of the official sponsors compared to ‘ambushers’ and competitor brands (non-sponsors).

Companies spend millions in order to be allowed to advertise as World Cup sponsors. According to Statista, the additional advertising costs of the World Cup alone totalled 2.4 billion dollars worldwide this year – not including official sponsorship activity. Shortly before the start of this, the world’s largest football event, Facit Research investigated whether the German public were actually aware of the sponsors.

As well as asking about the actual sponsors of the FIFA football World Cup in Russia, a few non-sponsors were also included. Of all the sponsors, only Coca Cola (67.9%) and adidas (57.8%) were identified as sponsors by over half of those surveyed. The credit card provider Visa is currently recognised as an official sponsor by only 37.3 per cent of participants. MasterCard, as a direct competitor, achieves 34.6 per cent as a non-sponsor, which can be explained by MasterCard’s engagement with the UEFA Champions League. There is an even more extreme discrepancy in public profile between Qatar Airways and Lufthansa and between Budweiser and Heineken. Here, non-sponsors Lufthansa (22.9%) and Heineken (16.8%) achieved higher ratings than the actual sponsors Qatar Airways (17.1%) and Budweiser (13.4%). Why is this? For Heineken/Budweiser, it is the same story as with Visa/MasterCard: Heineken sponsors the UEFA Champions League and is therefore recognised as a sponsor in the world of football and is now perceived more strongly at the World Cup than its competitor Budweiser. And from a German point of view, the Lufthansa/Qatar result has an easy explanation: as the airline and its crane logo sponsor the German side, its visibility in connection with the football World Cup is huge in this country. As a result, many of those surveyed assumed that they were sponsoring the entire World Cup.

This shows that the real sponsors of the FIFA football World Cup were not able to achieve the desired link with the event in advance. We will run a second survey after the event and are excited to see any changes in the assessment.


For more information please email: info@facit-group.com.

Voice user interfaces are in no way a new phenomenon. Siri has been on the market since 2011. However, with the seemingly omnipresent advertising for Amazon Echo, the topic is now more relevant than ever. Competitors of the Echo are very active in this field, too. Google with Assistant, Microsoft with Cortana and Facebook with their Messenger M are vying for consumer favour. Consequently, graphic interfaces are being increasingly replaced by or only used in conjunction with voice user interfaces, as speech has been the simplest and most used form of communication for millennia. Even today, voice user interfaces are not without their faults.