Why Chirp? Simulators!

In our Why Chirp? series, we’ll explore some of the qualitative, quantitative, and innovation methodologies we offer and how multi-phase, mixed-methodology research forwards our clients’ objectives.  This month, we’re talking Simulators with Director of Quantitative Research, Leslie Hagen.

What are Simulator Studies?

Simulators are powerful decision-making tools, and we also think they can be a lot of fun! You can think of simulators as another way to explore a set of data. By setting up the simulator using various filters, this is a tool that that can be used to show you what you can expect in a world where you make the rules (sounds nice, right?).

Are there different types of Simulators? 

Absolutely! Simulators in market research can vary widely from simple predictive models (if X happens, then what happens to Y?) to complex product configurations that include large number of features, subscription models, and discounts.

Most commonly our simulators use Conjoint or MaxDiff data (see our previous post on Choice Design) to give a recommendation on how best to configure a certain product (or a line of products) to optimize profit and/or consumer reach.

Can you give me an example?

Yes! We ran an example study to give our readers a chance to see a real-life example of a study that would showcase how we would use a simulator, what it looks like, and what kinds of questions we can answer.

Welcome to Chirp Orchard and Cidery!

Chirp Orchard and Cidery is planning a digital marketing campaign to showcase their flagship products: apple cider and apple cider donuts. The orchard wants to explore consumers’ preferences when it comes to iconic fall activities to inform their digital campaign and future product marketing.  Using a discrete-choice model (DCM) design, we tested consumer fall activity preferences, including who they prefer to do these activities with, what time of day, and what snack and beverage best pair with the activity.  

Using the data collected in the DCM exercise, we created an Excel-based simulator that allows the orchard to run different scenarios / combinations to see the consumer preference share for each in real time. By running these simulations, the orchard can determine the direction to take with their digital marketing campaign.  For example, keeping the snack and beverage constant, as the orchard knows these are the products they want to market, the orchard can run different combinations of activities, company, and time of day to understand which are most preferred by consumers.    

Based on these simulations, the orchard can tell that the most preferred fall activities tend to be taking a walk/hike to look at the leaves, football games, watching movies by the fireplace, and bonfires.   If the orchard wants to get more granular, they can continue to run variations of those most preferred activities to hone-in on who consumers most prefer to do those activities with and during what time of day.    

By utilizing the simulator, the orchard can conclude that consumers most preferred fall activity is a walk/hike to look at the leaves, with their family, in the morning (with an apple cider and apple cider donut of course).  This information can then be used to inform their digital marketing campaign and future product marketing to feature these attributes most prominently to get more people to visit the orchard. Other questions we could answer with this simulator could be:

  • What would be the best new snack and/or drink to offer?
  • What do people with pets most want to do at the orchard?
  • What would be the best activities to include for our new event – “Nights at the Orchard”?
What are the unique challenges of a simulator study?
  • Even a simple conjoint exercise can include thousands of possible scenarios – it is good to include a baseline or control option to better understand options that perform well (or not).
  • Consumers are typically going to prefer a product that gives them the most for the least amount of money. Going into the simulation with at least an estimate of operational costs can provide an additional layer of insight – especially when products perform similarly.
  • Simulators require some rolling up of the sleeves and getting into the data in a way that traditional reporting doesn’t do. While we do much of the heavy lifting in sorting through all the possible combinations as part of our standard reporting process, you may find yourself setting up new scenarios long after the project is completed.
What can clients expect from the process?

Prior to receiving the simulator, be prepared to discuss:

  • What filters should be included in the simulator?
  • How many products should be possible to compare?
  • Are there any additional logic or restrictions that should be considered when running simulations (e.g., some attributes are only valid when certain other levels of an attribute are selected? are some configurations not allowed or feasible?)
Why choose Chirp?

At Chirp, we ensure that our simulators are not only well-designed and easy to use, but also tailored to your exact needs for filters and product selections. Every simulator is custom to your project needs.