• 09 July 2014

What are Vets’ Opinions Worth?

Good question, and of course it depends who’s asking and why.

If a market researcher wants to know what you think, for example in a focus group or user experience test, it really depends whether you are being asked in your professional capacity or not. After all, we all play many roles in life – as well as your work as a vet, you may also be a parent, shopper, traveller… and from all of these perspectives we make decisions as a consumer.

Saros Research Ltd recruits consumer and business participants for paid market research projects, and from time to time requires veterinary practitioners for specific projects related to professional expertise – for example, a recent job looking at flea collars for cats and dogs, which involved a planned re-branding of an established range.

As well as recruiting focus groups with practice managers, to look at new point-of-sale material and leaflets, Saros also organised a series of in-depth-interviews with city veterinary surgeons to look at the product itself and elicit feedback on the final design usability and effectiveness. Of course, vets had been involved by the manufacturers at all stages of the product development cycle, but for this final check on an almost-finished new item it was important for them to test with new experts who had been uninvolved with the process, and could bring a fresh look to the final output.

The two professional roles obviously overlapped considerably, but brought different priorities to bear for the manufacturers. Both vets and their reception staff had important position when it came to recommending flea control to their clients, but from slightly different perspectives

Saros also recruited focus groups with consumers in different locations, to ensure the designs appealed – segmenting potential purchasers demographically but additionally according to their relationships with and overall emotional closeness to their pets, because previous research had indicated that different factors had different weight with different consumers: effective flea deterrence had to be balanced across competing consumer needs such as appearance, materials, safety of the pesticide in a family home, safety for the cat in terms of quick release and stretch, and so on.

Everyone involved was paid for their opinions, but it’s fair to say the participants recruited because they owned a pet cat were offered considerably less than the qualified vets who took part, simply because of the relative value of their input to the finished output.

But of course, the vet who took part in this interview might get an invitation from Saros in 6 months time to earn £40 looking at packaging for bottles of shampoo or new mobile phone weather apps, because Saros recruits a much higher volume of consumer research than the more lucrative B2B projects – where the sums involved tend towards the hundreds.

Think about the sheer range of brands you interact with daily as a consumer, rather than the far more niche decisions you make professionally… You probably don’t think of picking up a can of soup or tube of toothpaste as an active consumer decision, but understanding how these things are decided upon makes taking part in consumer qualitative research equally fascinating. So many different factors affect that choice but most of them we aren’t even aware of…

If you’d like to be part of this kind of research, get signed up at http://sarosresearch.com - it’s an interesting way to make a little extra cash occasionally, and help to shape the future of brands and services you use, whether professionally or as a consumer. They are Company Partners of the Market Research Society, so the events they invite you to are professionally regulated and confidential, as well as interesting and fun, and most research is run during the evenings at various centres across the UK.


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