OPINION25 April 2024

The crucial role of data quality in market research

Data analytics North America Opinion Trends

Data quality has risen up the market research industry agenda in recent years. Melanie Courtright outlines the importance of data quality to insight. 

Magnifying glass with target underneath

In the dynamic landscape of market research, where every decision is propelled by insights, data quality emerges as the unsung hero, quietly steering the course of action with its profound impact. Data quality serves as the bedrock upon which the edifice of meaningful analysis and informed decision-making stands tall.

Regardless of method, mode, tool, technology, industry or topic, quality is the most important element of the outcomes being fit for decision-making. Data quality, as defined by the Global Data Quality Glossary, means: “The measure of the condition of data based on factors such as accuracy, completeness, consistency, reliability and how up to date it is.” Quality data for insights fosters credibility, facilitates relevance and drives innovation.

Data quality fosters credibility. In an age where trust is the currency of consumer engagement, businesses cannot afford to base their decisions on shaky foundations. High-quality data lends legitimacy to research findings, enhancing the credibility of business strategies and bolstering stakeholder confidence. Whether it is persuading investors, convincing board members or winning over sceptical consumers, the credibility conferred by accurate and reliable data is invaluable.

Data quality facilitates relevance. In the vast sea of information inundating businesses today, discerning the signal from the noise is paramount. High-quality data ensures that the insights derived from market research are pertinent, actionable and aligned with the strategic objectives of the organisation. By filtering out extraneous or irrelevant data points, businesses can focus their resources on endeavours that truly move the needle, thereby maximising efficiency and efficacy.

Data quality drives agility and innovation. In today’s fast-paced business environment, agility is not just a buzzword but a prerequisite for survival. Timely access to accurate and reliable data empowers businesses to adapt swiftly to changing market dynamics, seize emerging opportunities and mitigate potential threats. Agility enables innovation, and innovation thrives on insights.

By ensuring the integrity, completeness and consistency of data, businesses create fertile ground for innovation to flourish. Whether it’s uncovering untapped market segments, identifying unmet consumer needs or predicting future trends with precision, the transformative potential of data-driven innovation is unleashed when fuelled by high-quality data.

For these reasons, the Global Data Quality (GDQ) initiative was formed through a partnership with global associations to take on the yeoman’s task of developing a framework for measuring and improving data quality in the insights profession. That work started with defining the language we use, outlining the research process, developing tools along that research process and leading the profession towards a quantitative conversation about the state of data quality, and an eventual path to quality buying signals. To achieve this, we must bring the profession along with us, getting their buy-in at every step.

To date, GDQ has delivered the glossary, a recommendation on the use of secure end links, a best practice guide on survey design and mobile optimisation guidelines. This quarter, two new tools are being issued: a Technology Solutions Guide and a Buyer’s Guide. In Q3, the first of their kind industry benchmarks will be released, so we can track performance on key data quality metrics over time. As a profession of measurement, we must measure what we care about – data quality.

To engage with the tools, or to become a part of the movement, we invite you to the GDQ webpage

The importance of data quality in market research cannot be overstated. Global associations and leaders in the field are adamant that data quality is either a core strength or an eminent threat to the future of market research. It is the cornerstone upon which informed decision-making, strategic agility and sustainable growth rest.

When trust is high, the profession thrives, and researchers have a greater seat at the table enabling us to advocate for people’s opinions. When credibility is low, our ability to represent people and influence decisions is at risk. We implore each of you to embrace data quality as the guiding light that illuminates your research choices, and to join us in the movement that ensures the credibility and growth of this great profession.

Melanie Courtright is chief executive officer at the Insights Association.

An earlier article has explored the MRS work to date to emerge from the Global Data Quality initiative.