NEWS19 March 2014

‘There’s a gap crying out for people to help companies deal with data’


Stuart Rose discusses how researchers can sell insight to entrepreneurs at the MRS Conference.


Stuart Rose spent 14 and a half years as MD of Body Shop, and a number of years in other roles before joining Hamleys, but he had never commissioned market research before joining the toy store. “I was concerned that we only had the Regent Street store, but in order to generate the blueprint for international expansion we needed to truly understand what it was that people loved about Hamleys.”

With hindsight, Rose recognised that had he employed market research earlier in his time at the Body Shop, the retailer might have turned around its fortunes. But he has since learned from this mistake, and insists that entrepreneurs are now much more willing to turn to insight to guide their vision, though they may need a little cajoling. He highlighted his key tips for market researchers looking to sell their offering to entrepreneurs:

  1. Keeb debriefs brief: “Six slides is a lot – a lot of info, a lot of data. Two slides will do, Three at most. If you can’t get to the hub in three slides, you lose them.”
  2. Read the news: “Private equity houses will typically do market research as part of the due diligence process before investing in a company. If you follow the press you can track which houses are interested in funding which companies.”
  3. Help companies use their data: “There’s data mining and there’s data use. The data use issues are really desperate. There’s no shortage of data but we don’t know how to work with it. There’s a gap crying out for people to help companies use with data.”
  4. Persuade companies to use research earlier: “I typically use market research to validate rather necessarily come up with new stuff, but it always always seems to come up with new stuff.”
  5. International is a fertile place for market research: “I should know better than to try and expand internationally without gaining much insight – I come from an international background. It’s not arrogance on anyone’s part, but when you decide to go international you’ve got such a lot to do – you get obsessed with the detail and miss the point. I’ve learnt that to my cost afterwards. International is a massive gap.”


1 Comment

10 years ago

Just a point of fact - as former Global Marketing Director at The Body Shop, I'll nudge Stuart's memory: one of the first things I did when I joined was to commission various pieces of market research and meaning analysis. The scope was global and it gave us many insights. I am happy to say that the subsequent marketing strategy was suitably informed by it. Stuart is correct to point out that research wasn't part of the business's decision-making culture in those days.

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