Challenges of Field Experiments in Marketing

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  • 0:03 Marketing Field Experiments
  • 0:40 Cost and Time
  • 1:44 Competitive Intelligence
  • 2:28 Consumer Confusion
  • 3:36 Online Discussion
  • 4:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Field experiments can be a very informative method of conducting market research. But, there are challenges that can make them more difficult to do. Learn about these challenges in this lesson.

Marketing Field Experiments

A field experiment is a study conducted in the real world where you can see what people do under different situations. In marketing, field experiments are done to observe how customers react and interact with the products as well as to get and idea of what the competition is doing. For example, a cookie company may perform a field experiment by giving out free samples at a public event to gather information about how people like their cookies and how many make a purchase after a taste. Field experiments can yield rich rewards in terms of gathering very useful information and data, but there are challenges that come with conducting one.

Cost and Time

For one, conducting a field experiment requires time and money. It costs money to hire a trained field worker who knows what to look for and what to write down, and it takes time to observe people acting naturally. If things don't work out as planned, then a field experiment can take even longer to conduct. For example, your field experiment staff may decide to do something other than what you planned, taking the experiment completely off track. It takes time to fix this and get the experiment back on track. Time and money are not something that all businesses have or can afford. This challenge can be overcome by carefully planning the field experiment so that the observation happens at the time where the desired event is most likely to happen.

This is why for your field experiment for the cookie company, you chose to do it at the public event where a lot of people can taste your cookies instead of in a small neighborhood street corner where you may see five people in an hour. The public event gives you the feedback you are looking in the shortest amount of time as possible, ultimately saving you money.

Competitive Intelligence

Field experiments can also be used as part of performing competitive intelligence, or the process of making an informed executive decision based on data about competitors, customers, and company products. The challenge here lies in conducting field experiments to gather information about competitors for competitive intelligence. Competitive intelligence about your competitors includes things such as finding out where they get their products from, how they conduct their business, and how they are promoting their products. If you send field workers to the competition, the other company may accuse you of spying. To overcome this challenge, you may need to hire a third party to act as an interested customer to conduct your field experiment in gathering unbiased information about your competitor.

Consumer Confusion

Another challenge you may experience when conducting field experiments is when your desired group of people think you are representing a completely different company. When customers get confused, it's referred to as consumer confusion.

This happens when a company uses the same colors as another company that also happens to produce the same product. Your cookie company, for example, may have a logo or name that just happens to be similar to another cookie company. When you conduct field experiments, you may come across people who think you are with the other cookie company and give you answers related to that company. This can be a bad thing as people may lose trust in your company if they think you are copying another company.

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