The budgets and the personnel devoted to the generation of customer insight are shrinking, putting more pressure on market research functions to deliver value supportive of business priorities. I am watching multiple companies question the value of their entire market research function, striving to define stronger accountability and looking for ways to change the traditional model. This is our wake-up call!
The industry spends a lot on market research, but I'd argue we aren't getting enough for those expenditures. We need to do a better job of challenging whether there is a direct link between the key business issues and the need for incremental insight. There are a handful of questions that can guide researchers to wisely invest their scarce resources:
- What is the specific business problem motivating the market research?
- What do we already know?
- Is there existing insight that addresses our question?
- Can we leverage secondary data?
- How will additional research change the decision we would make today?
These questions are a start. It's about having a process inherent within the market research function to take the data and knowledge gathered and synthesizing this into customer insight. This is an iterative process that takes time and commitment, but is essential to solving business problems—and to justifying the research. Too often we generate data, but then fall short in extracting insights that drive the business.
Maximizing the value of market research requires us to seek a higher standard, demonstrating every day that we are valued partners contributing to solving the critical business problems facing our organizations.
Amy Marta is a principal with ZS Associates