Money On The Table: Product Usage Studies
by Jerry W. Thomas

  • Product Usage Studies
    Product usage (or product consumption) studies should be thought of as foundational research to be conducted on a periodic basis.
    With the reduced marketing budgets of the last decade, many traditional product usage studies have fallen by the wayside. Yet, it is very difficult to market a brand without detailed knowledge of how the product is used or consumed.

    For example, let's take something as mundane as peanut butter. Assume that you are the brand manager. Do you know how, when, and where peanut butter is used? What other foods is it used on or with? For each usage occasion, what brand and type of peanut butter is used and how much is used? Usage must be measured for all days of the week equally, for all hours of the day, across all seasons of the year, both at home and away from home.

If we conducted usage research and discovered that a high percentage of all peanut butter was consumed on pancakes and waffles, that might lead to advertising that featured your brand of peanut butter served on pancakes and waffles, or it might lead to a line extension positioned against pancake or waffle usage. Or if it were discovered that a large segment of peanut butter users are vegans or vegetarians who use peanut butter as a source of protein, then we might want to concentrate advertising on this specific group or even develop a new brand of peanut butter optimized for vegans/vegetarians.

Usage studies might reveal that certain groups don't use your peanut butter, and that discovery could trigger qualitative research investigations to find out why. Any brand or product that doesn't do a comprehensive usage or consumption study every two or three years is leaving money on the table.

About the Author

Jerry W. Thomas ( is President/CEO of Decision Analyst. He may be reached at 1-800-262-5974 or 1-817-640-6166.


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