NEWS23 November 2009

Blue chips failing in use of insight, says study

North America

US— It’s a familiar refrain at conferences, but a new survey from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) adds stats to back up the claim that even the biggest companies in the world fail to make the most of their market research.

The study of 800 executives from 40 companies, each with sales of more than $1.5bn, found shortcomings in the use of research to drive business growth.

For instance, while 72% of respondents said consumer insight is used to help with the development on new products and marketing messages, only 30% use it to help decide channel and distribution strategy.

BCG found that just one-third of respondents use research as an input to financial forecasts while only 38% use it to drive pricing.

But perhaps most worrying was that only 35% of the executives surveyed said they had good data on how consumer needs and behaviour change over time, while less than half ( 47%) claimed to know what drives market share, who is buying and why.

Co-author and BCG partner Mary Egan contrasted this state of affairs with the “critically important” role research has to play in a recessionary environment. “Only companies with the sharpest focus on understanding consumer value will retain customer in this environment,” she said.

A full copy of the report can be found here.



14 years ago

Survey proves world needs BCG, says BCG survey. Yes, well. If one surveys 20 executives across 40 companies, then presumably one gets the CFO, the head of HR, the head of operations and all all the other heads whose roles do not explicitly deal with consumers and consumer motivations. Oh yes, for sure, we should all be customer focused - but in an organisation of the size surveyed by BCG ([presumably the kind of company BCG wishes to deal with) top execs ahve to be pretty damned focused on their area of responsibility. So if a third of these people have great information about their customers, then that is probably all that's necessarily. BCG didn't report the really vital question: do these various execs talk to each other. So long as there are a few consumer champions in their midst, then the level of consumer insight may actually be more than adequate. We use network analysis to see how well the decision-makers are glued together. But I wouldn't get too alarmed if the head of operations doesn't read the market research report. For heavens sakes, he or she has enough on their plate. Somebody tell BCG to stop always sounding so hysterical.

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14 years ago

I thought that the bog standard research debrief always included the 'Boston Box'. Are they now telling us they were kidding us all along?

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