At the 10th Annual MSMR Insights Conference at the University of Texas at Arlington last week, three speakers shared case studies about real and virtual intercepts.

Jill Matthews of Bright Cactus needed to do new product testing with bodybuilders, and found the best way to reach them was to interview them at bodybuilding competitions. Some of her respondents were even naked while she interviewed them! Intercepts require both planning and flexibility: have a back-up and be ready to improvise, because sometimes a store may be doing inventory in the aisle you need to monitor, or an area may be experiencing high traffic or a special event.

Kelly Heatly of Heatly Custom Research needed to interview Crouton shoppers, who are much more prosaic than bodybuilders, but can’t be found at a crouton convention. Kelly realized too few Walmart shoppers are buying croutons to be able to complete traditional intercepts: instead she did “virtual intercepts,” where panelists who were in a Walmart received a mobile notification. Those few who were planning on buying croutons were given a survey in aisle and asked to provide photo and video responses. The insights led to recommendations for brand strategy, pricing, packaging, and in-store support (exceeding the study’s objectives).

Scott Koenig of KPI Aviation Marketing Solutions shared his firm’s work for Phoenix Sky Harbor. “At PHX, data drives real decisions and the research team has a seat at the table. For instance, for the annual strategic plan, every single initiative used data from our study to justify their investment.” The new director of PHX airport had been surprised at the lack of data to inform all the decisions that needed to be made, and he immediately commissioned an ongoing intercept tracking study. KPI Aviation conducts face-to-face intercept interviews with about 70 passengers a day, 365 days a year, with the actual number varying by season (more in the winter, less in the summer). Fieldworkers carry iPads and are trained to listen to tangents and capture these asides at the end of the survey in a Passenger’s Voice section. Passengers expect more from airports these days, and this research is helping deliver to their expectations.

Intercept surveys capture in-the-moment responses and aren’t subject to the recall issues of follow-up surveys. As Kelly said, “imagine what you can learn from consumers where they make purchase decisions or experience the brand.”

Looking to learn more? The Principles Express course Quantitative Data Collection Methods will teach you how to choose the most appropriate data collection method given your audience, the topic area of your research, and the methodology you plan to use.

Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.