Ben & Jerry’s: How You Can Also Use The Web As A Focus Group

On Ben & Jerry’s web site their customers can do two things, amongst others, 1) find out if certain flavors are available 2) find out where Ben & Jerry’s is sold.
You can use the website for your business as well, by capturing the search terms your audience is using. If 100 customers are searching for red shoes in zip code 10023, would it not make sense to consider if you should have red shoes available at your retailer in that zip code?
Make sure you go through your search logs and carefully analyze the top searches. Combine the data and see what useful intelligence you can glean.
CIO Insight Magazine writes “We get hundreds of thousands of flavor searches a year,” says Lucas Jenson, market research and consumer services manager for Ben & Jerry’s. “Not only are we able to give consumers answers to their questions immediately, we can see consumer demand in a particular area of the country.”
The information translates into action. “We can go to our sales team and say, ‘What’s up, can we get this flavor stocked in this store?’ ” says Jenson. “And when we launch new flavors, it’s a great way to tell right out of the gate which will be the most popular. We pay a lot of attention around this time of year, and Chocolate Therapy looks like a classic in the making.”
The Web site also supports Ben & Jerry’s hippie-licious brand image with prominent links to an anti-global-warming page, and another page that promises “50 ways to support peace.” But however altruistic the corporate culture, the site is built to sell ice cream. The Flavor Locator, which uses scanner data from Information Resources Inc. to track inventory in real time, is the most popular customer-service feature.