OPINION12 July 2012
OPINION12 July 2012
‘Innovate or die’ has become something of a rallying cry among researchers looking to stave off commoditisation. But innovating is just part of the solution. Chris Dowsett identifies nine factors that impact on the perceived value of MR.
The industry is showing that it is sensitive to these concerns. New methods are beginning to reshape parts of what we do – partly out of fear that the traditional way of doing things, online surveys in particular, are becoming commoditised. Few industries can afford to remain stagnant and the market research business is no different.
BrainJuicer is often cited as a firm unafraid to try new things. Its research tools draw on learnings from psychology, neuroscience, sociology and behavioural economics to add value beyond the humble survey. Gartner ( 1) calls it “a successful new approach in market research”. I’d also name-check QualVu, whose qualitative video research capabilities bring business leaders directly into the research process where they can watch ‘data’ and get a real sense of the value of hearing what consumers think about a product.
It is great to see that new methods are featuring more regularly in proposals, conferences and research articles. The research landscape is shifting in an effort to remain relevant and valuable to business. But while methodological innovation is beneficial, it shouldn’t be the only focus. Brennan, Camm and Tanas ( 2) wrote a paper in 2007 warning that ‘new’ isn’t always ‘improved’; that innovation shouldn’t be at the expense of data validity.
Data validity and innovation aside, there are a complex series of factors that impact on the perception of the value of market research and its use by businesses. I’ve identified nine in total: four that are external to the market research industry and not directly influenced by market research stakeholders but are important to understand; five that either originate within the industry or can be directly influenced by research stakeholders.
From these, it should be obvious that methodological innovation isn’t the sole answer to MR’s woes. Newer methods, for example, won’t change the external pressures that research buyers need to consider before commissioning a project.
There’s also a need to consider the way in which data is delivered as much as there is a need to create new ways of generating data. Finally, newer methods are often focused on reaching new samples of consumers but these samples first need to be validated as reliable data sources – otherwise innovation will only lead to greater concerns about our ability to collect accurate information.
The next step in my research is to examine all these factors against feedback I get from business managers. Some factors will undoubtedly have a greater impact than others. My goal is to work out the magnitude of influence for each factor. In the meantime, I’d welcome the thoughts of readers.
Chris Dowsett is marketing intelligence and social platforms manager at Quantum. He’s studying a doctorate with USQ ( Australia) that examines the value of research data to business leaders, how research is used in businesses and the value given to different types of data.
( 1) Ganly, 2012, “Cool Vendors in Asia/Pacific, 2012”, Gartner Research, accessed 9th of July 2012
( 2) Brennan, L., Camm, J., & Tanas, J. ( 2007). Validity in market research practice: ‘new’ is not always ‘improved’. Der Markt, 46( 1-2), 3-12.