A Case of Shaffer Company (MR)

The Shaffer Company produced a line of popular priced men’s toiletries, including colognes, shaving creams, and deodorants. Shaffer sold its line nationally through such outlets as drugstores, supermarkets, and departmental stores. Recently the agency that had handled the Shaffer advertising account for 10 years was replaced because the new marketing director of Shaffer felt a new advertising approach was needed.

After evaluating the company’s advertising history and what research was available, the new agency proposed that a lifestyle or psychographics study be undertaken in an effort to learn more about what kinds of men represented the potential for the Shaffer line of products. In commenting on this request, the agency account executive stated that such a study, if properly conducted, could have far reaching significance in helping to segment the market, to provide a direction for the agency’s copy and media strategies and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of competitors.

More specifically, the agency proposed that this research attempt to relate buyer behavior regarding the different product categories to a variety of activity and attitude factors, to obtain product usage and brand preference data, to collect information about individuals’ ideal band choice criteria, and to determine how various brands of men’s toiletries rated against these criteria. It was suggested that the data be obtained from a sample of 1,500 using an existing consumer mail panel. Data collection costs, including pre-testing the questionnaire, were estimated at $25,000.

In discussions between the research directors of the agency and the Shaffer Company, it was determined that it was possible to obtain a tested list of some 300 lifestyle statements. These could serve as a starting point in the development of the specific activity factors to be used. These 300 statements had been developed over time and, while essentially concerned with female activities, could help in suggesting lifestyle factors to be studied for men. Thus, it was planned to include “statements” dealing with how males spent their time – that is, work, hobbies, sports, vacations, community activities, and social events; what their interests were in terms of the relative importance of the family, home, work, sports, social activities, reading, television viewing and so on; their opinions and thoughts about themselves relating to business, culture, social issues, politics and education and their demographic characteristics. Respondents would be asked to rate (using a five point scale) the extent to which they agreed with such statements as “I often try new brands before my friends do” and “I like to go to parties where there are lots of music and talk”.

Media usage information would be obtained by providing respondents with a list of magazines (e.g. Esquire, Playboy, and Reader’s Digest) and specific television shows (e.g. “60 minutes”, CBS News”, and “Monday Night football”). For each such vehicle respondents would be asked to indicate whether they read (or viewed) almost every issue, most issues, about every other one, less than half a few or almost none. The idea here was to get information that would classify the extent to which a given magazines or television show was patronized.

Regarding product usage and brand preference, the intent was to determine present brand(s) in use by product type (colognes, deodorants, and shave creams); whether purchased or received as a gift (if gift, from whom and for what occasion); where purchased (type of outlet); and brands purchased before the present one. Respondents would also be asked to indicate the relative importance of a number of different product characteristics on a scale of zero to 10 for each of the three product types. They would then be asked to rate the brands they were familiar with on the same characteristics.

It was estimated that the final questionnaire would probably contain 250 to 300 questions, including demographic and classification information. Before turning to as formulation of the questionnaire, the two directors thought it advisable to develop a detailed analysis plan since the handling of such a large amount of data, much of it involving scaling, posed real problems. Without a rather precise plan, tabulating costs and the time devoted to analysis could quickly get out of control. Since neither director had prior experience in analyzing such a study, it was decided to turn the problem over to a research consultant.

After several discussions with consultants, it was agreed that they should present a plan of analysis that would set forth the decision areas of primary concern to the agency and its client and the data needed to clarify each such area. For example, the agency wanted to know what media vehicles were used, and to what extent, by heavy versus light users of men’s toiletries. It wanted to use the data in the development of media schedules, taking into account reach, frequency, and cost. The client on the other hand, was extremely interested in using the data to specify market segments on the basis of brand choice criteria and the perceptions of the various brands.