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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Volkswagen's insight boss on 'inadequate' research

Steve Gatt, economic and insight manager at Volkswagen Group, tells us why he believes most of the research he sees is ‘not up to scratch’.

Read the full interview with Steve Gatt in the August issue of Research Magazine.

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Readers' comments (20)

  • I'm amazed that clientside users/ buyers like Steve are still complaining about 70 page reports and agencies still as information providers. On the one hand I suppose I'm glad competitors still think lots of charts = value or insight. As an industry professional I find this feedback frankly depressing.

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  • To be fair it is sometimes the fault of clients, especially if the research brief was not clear.

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  • Clearly we should not be surprised at this feedback - Steves comments appear to be aimed at the major players in our market who have driven and continue to drive process. I wonder how many of his colleagues share the same view - we recently presented to a large corporate client who had a project team requiring lots of detail and an Insight Manager wanting a simple story - in a single debrief what would you do?

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  • If they want us to stop delivering 70-page reports, then tell their research team to stop asking for them. Clients also need to take responsibility for providing clear direction to their supply vendor that ultimately reflects what their stakeholders and/need.

    Working for a research supply vendor means 99% of the time you're operating blindly and stuck between a rock and a hard place. You never win.

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  • Sorry Steve, but nearly all of this is the buyer's fault. Don't hire agencies that give you 100 page reports when you ask for 15 or 3.
    The main reason that there are large, process driven agencies is that clients choose to spend most of their money with these agencies. Clients are the main reason that the industry is the shape it is, so it is difficult to hear clients complain about it.
    My advice (free on this occasion), do less research, use the savings to by better research, share knowledge with your agencies, define your deliverables, and only pay the full bill if the deliverables are met.

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  • Oh dear, oh dear. This has been rumbling on for the 20 years I've been in research. How come we (MR) STILL find it so difficult to give Steve and VW what they want? I suspect MR companies ARE too focused on process rather than understanding how client businesses operate. If we can't do that,we'll soon be stopmed by the marketers - they get it!

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  • If the brief is not clear surely it is incumbent on the agency to question and, if necessary challenge the brief until it is clear.

    If there are two different requirements regarding reporting, why not produce two reports or include all the detail in appendices to a more management focused document.

    Perhaps Steve should cast his net wider to include smaller agencies who are not process driven factories but build research for the benefit of clients rather than shoe-horn projects into off the shelf methodologies.

    www.insightbusiness.co.uk

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  • Sad that this point still has to be made but good to hear it expressed loud and clear.
    There's so much truth in the words of Mark Twain "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead"?
    As a person with an avid hatred of datadumps I say, Amen Steve.

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  • I've been discussing this with colleagues and the idea of 3 vs 70 page reports resonates but isn't this more of a plea for analysis that says *what to do* rather than *what is going on*.

    I've been hearing this for nearly 20 years and as an industry we're still crap at delivering it. I would say the time has come to stop trying to sell research direct to clients and collaborate with agencies that understand how to do this better - marketers, brand agencies, management consultants - and let them lead on reporting.

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  • Sitting in both camps as a clientside researcher who also works on projects for external clients, I can empathise with the frustrations on both sides. It is true that many agencies don't adapt to client's requirements and sometimes there seems to be a lack of understanding that as clients we are trying to work with them to make their deliverables right for our stakeholders. There have been times when I have asked for changes to be made by an agency before a presentation and they haven't been, which weakens the agency's and my credibility.
    But on the other hand, not all clients give feedback prior to a debrief and a few seem to decide at the last minute that their objective was in fact different to what they initially communicated. I also agree with some of the above comments that many clients continue to commission the large agencies, regardless of the fact that they are process driven and expensive. We need to give smaller agencies a fair chance and be prepared to move our money if the service isn't great.

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