Case Study 5 Message Development and Awareness Assessment among Retail Securities Investors and Brokers

Business Needs

To gauge the degree of investment that needed to be made in communications to the investment community, a quasi-governmental securities agency needed information regarding awareness levels and understanding of its mission among retail investors and among securities brokers who sell to a retail client base. In addition, the agency needed to understand what messages and information were needed by investors and their brokers.

The Study

Given that most of the information sought was exploratory in nature, we recommended that the primary mode of research be qualitative in the form of focus groups among retail investors and in-depth interviews among brokers. Six focus Groups among various segments of investors were conducted in three geographically dispersed US cities. Groups were conducted among retired people who were actively investing, among working people with 401Ks invested in securities, and among individuals with sizable (non-qualified) investment portfolios. As well, a total of 15 in-person depth interviews were conducted among stock brokers with retail clientele across a mix of brokerage types.

In addition, given that focus groups are exploratory in nature among a small base of respondents, we recommended that the awareness measures be collected via a standard "omnibus" survey. Omnibus surveys are conducted on an ongoing basis among consumer households in the US. In cases where only a few items of information are being sought, the omnibus provides an inexpensive venue for collecting data from a large projectable sample size. Using this method, we were able to gain information about investing behavior and awareness of the agency among 2000 US households and 250 investors. Those aware were further queried about what they knew about the agency and where they learned about it.

The End Result

The quantitative omnibus portion of the study provided a benchmark for the current levels of awareness and understanding of the organization among the general population as well as among investors of various types. From the qualitative portion of the study we learned what investors and brokers want to know about the agency, where they would like to get the information and what role brokers could play in providing this information to their customers.