Expert's Panel

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    How do you successfully conduct market surveys - format, media, incentive for customers, etc.?

  1. You can always hire an outside consultant to do it for you. The advantage is an unbiased source. Unfortunately when we do it inside our own company people sometimes say what they think we want them to say.
  2. You don't want to farm the process out totally because you want to put some of your knowledgeable perspective on the things customers are telling you. You intimately know your own product and circumstance in a way the consultant is never going to know it. You want to add to what the consultant brings you rather than accepting it as gospel.
  3. The qualitative aspect is as important as the quantitative. The qualitative means hearing what the respondent is saying. Sometimes the quantitative gives you one answer but it is not really what the market was saying. You get the qualitative by interacting with the respondents during the research.
  4. When I was at Nikon we did one very good market research program. Each year our product marketing people went out and did a "Future Design Survey." We asked customers to spend 45 minutes to an hour with us, one on one, in their factory and in return we would give them back the results of that survey which covered 28-30 customers and about 60-75 engineers. They were intense, very succinct, one on one surveys. The major motivation is they would get back what everybody else in the industry was saying -in a disguised way of course - which helped them to define their future lithography strategy.
  5. Focus Groups are another good vehicle. You get some of your key customers in the group and you hear things that you would never hear if you were sitting across the desk from them. They mentioned things about you as a vendor, performance issues, the competition and so on. It is often good to measure the value of advertising and MARCOM activities this way. The participants don't know who is the sponsor of the Focus Group and the moderator is typically asking very general questions. It usually works well.
  6. I have two comments to make on market surveys. They can't be one way. Customers are busy and if you go in to suck them dry with question, question, question they will wonder what they are doing there. You have to start off with something that will be educational for them; or something that will catch their attention in a personal way. This allows them to meaningfully interact. Another thing is if you really want to talk about market surveys, there is really no such thing as a decent sample in our industry. You need to recognize right off the bat that the input will be biased. This is where you applications knowledge is so important so you can sort things out. Also, be careful about your sample population - it needs to be properly balanced.