Since I was young, I've always had a particular interest in two things: (1) sports and (2) statistics. I became self-aware of my inner-nerd at at early age when I spent more time reviewing stats on the back of my baseball cards than looking at player pictures on the front. So reading the book Moneyball, written by Michael Lewis was a no-brainier for me. It's this passion for numbers and interpreting data that continues to motivate me at Drive Research.
Moneyball is the story of the Oakland Athletics (A's) baseball club in the early 2000s. In an era when the A's were competing (and still do compete) with baseball clubs who have a budget for players 3 times the size of Oakland's, it can be difficult to compete on an even playing field. The book talks about Oakland A's GM Billy Beane and his approach to build a low-budget baseball team based on analysis of statistics and data rather than reputation and big names.
Analytics and sabermetrics are common-place in baseball today and it's something that all MLB teams review in player evaluation. This has spread to other popular sports including the NFL. Data analysis has always been a cornerstone of market research, and it appears other industries are catching on to its benefits quickly.
Here are 5 market research lessons from Moneyball:
- (1) Data is king - Billy Beane understood the value of research and data in the evaluation of his players. Making decisions in any business without using data to guide and fuel strategy isn't smart. Companies (like the A's) that use market research and analytics to guide their decision-making process stand a greater chance of success and lower risk of failure.
- (2) More costly doesn't translate to better - The New York Yankees had a $125M payroll in 2002, the A's had a $39M payroll. Both teams won 103 games that season. Businesses often pay big market research firms to consult with them on studies because of the brand name they've built. The point is "good on paper" doesn't always guarantee "good on the field". Sometimes it's better to work with smaller firms who can focus more attention to your needs, objectives, and your project. You don't always get what you pay for when you pay for pinstripes.
- (3) Even the little firms have big talent - Although the A's may had one of the lowest payrolls in 2002, they still had legitimate MVP candidates in Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada and a stacked pitching staff that could all compete for the Cy Young award (Zito, Hudson and Mulder). So even though the A's payroll was minimal, they still had a ton of talent. Although the market research supplier you work with may not make $20 million per year in annual revenues, doesn't mean you'll receive $20 million worth of talent for your project. Many smaller firms that cost less offer comparable or better talent to consult with you.
- (4) Consistency and persistence matters - the A's moneyball system had its skeptics early on but the GM and staff stuck with the mantra and they became more successful over time because of it. The moneyball system of statistical analysis presented by the A's spread to all baseball organizations. Market research can steer your business strategy in the right direction and set your organization up for success. The law of averages will once again dictate that doing "more" market research instead of "less" will make a business more successful over the long-haul.
Drive Research is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. Our company offers a variety of market research surveys including surveys, focus groups, CX, and VoC research. For more information about Drive visit our About Us page or our Services page.