Market research can be a treacherous industry in the current world of new technology and an influx of big data. There’s an underlying pressure for researchers to assuage stakeholders while simultaneously facing both shrinking budgets and increased costs of technology; and all in the face of an ever-mounting wave of data sources to analyze. Yikes.
Phil Sandy notes on the Greenbook blog three risky behaviors that he has observed in organizations as a result of shrinking research budgets:
- Cutting Insight Exploration. Early exploration insight work is often the first to go, meaning that late stage validation research is prioritized. Of course, this leads to a lack of fresh, breakthrough ideas based on solid insights even making it to late stages…
- Over-stretched Methodologies. So after cutting elements like early insights from the research mix, teams then try to maximize the research techniques that are left. Of course, you can only stretch them so far. Skipping a thorough quantitative study in favor of only qualitative research leads to high-stakes decisions being made based on the opinions of a handful of consumers.
- Over-reliance on Big Data. Some organizations see Big Data as a ‘free’ solution, leading to it being used in place of scientific, hypothesis-driven research. Remember that correlation between data points does not necessarily mean causation.
So assuming that shrinking budgets cannot be overturned, what can your organization do to cope?
- Smaller, iterative research steps. Implementing a system of smaller research steps means that the best research tool is applied at each stage, and teams get the insights needed to make fast decisions at key moments. This ensures that research supports every important decision that’s made, and that no one big piece of research is over-relied upon to satisfy all learning needs.
- Use Big Data to validate. Data should never be just mined on its own hoping that logical patterns will emerge. Generate a hypothesis and then validate/disprove it using data mining. Big Data’s big strength is when it is used as a part of a larger research process, as it provides a window into what consumers do and say when a researcher isn’t watching.
- Share results with partners. Avoid working in silos; empower your agency partners to draw even deeper truths by briefing them on all insights that are uncovered. Sharing the results of a quantitative online survey with a qualitative research vendor can only assist to get more accurate, actionable insights.
Market research lays at the heart of outstanding initiatives, but only if its executed correctly. Don’t let shrinking budgets negatively affect the insights that are produced.