Market research. People either love it or hate it depending on their past exposure to it. It seems to be a very polarizing topic in business where you'll either hear one of two stories. Story one, how a concept testing project led to a few critical improvements to a product that led to a projected 10% increase in sales. Story two, a focus group of participants that absolutely hated a new branding campaign but the client ignored some of the feedback and launched one of the most successful re-imaging efforts in their history.
If this is your reaction to "marketing research", you likely fit into one (or more) of these 8 profiles.
All things considered, here are the top 8 reasons businesses avoid using market research:
"It's too costly."
The argument here is businesses do not have the additional resources or budget to allocate to a marketing research project. Marketing dollars are difficult to come by and dollars for marketing research are even more difficult to come by. Unless you entrench data, benchmarks, and measurements into your core goals and strategies, marketing research is often an afterthought for companies.
"I'd rather spend those dollars elsewhere."
In business, everything comes down to bottom-line impact. Spending money on additional advertising or marketing is most likely to result in more immediate sales than using that money towards research. Marketing research is a long-term payback where the findings and strategies found through research is applied less directly and less immediately. New CX studies build in closed-loop feedback processes to follow-up with customers to help promote immediate actions from surveys.
"I am not sure what they will say about us."
Among the fears of using marketing research, this is one of the smallest barriers. Regardless of whether customers love or hate you, you need to know. Because what you don't know is arguably more dangerous than what you do know from customers. Simply lending an ear through a customer satisfaction survey will help your business understand where it stands, what needs to be improved, and will lay out the groundwork needed for successful strategy development.
"I don't trust the results."
My argument is any data is better than no data at all. If done well, the feedback you obtain from just 8 or 10 in-depth interviews (IDIs) will provide your business with the insights and direction needed from research. The days of 1,000 telephone completes promising a margin of error of +/- 2% are dwindling and the benefits of convenience sampling through online research (lower cost, quick turnaround, etc.) far outweigh the cost and time needed for hard proof statistical reliability. As I've spoken about in a prior post with directional research, sometimes all you need to know is "turn left" and not "turn left at 38 degrees." Don't let statistical reliability and sampling be the end all, be all for your decision on whether to use market research or not.
"I don't understand the value."
As Simon Sinek once said, market research teaches us consumers want the cheapest prices, the best quality products, with the most features, and the best service, what's new? The value of marketing research extends far beyond just the data. Reaching out to customers to actively listen to their feedback and better understand how your product or service fits into their lifestyle is invaluable. Add that to obtaining drivers to repurchasing, understanding how you compare to the competition, and many other KPIs, and you'll understand the immense value research holds.
"I do not have the time."
This is the poorest excuse of all. As a business who avoids using market research, you are essentially saying that I am willing to trade short-term gains for larger long-term payoffs from research. Hiring an experienced advisor or consultant in your industry can take much of the burden off you and your team. If you have time for a 30 minute kickoff meeting to clearly communicate goals and objectives of the research, sometimes that's all that needed for the vendor. A good consultant can take your project and run with it, bringing you back in the loop for key checkpoints (survey review, report review, etc.)
"I don't want to bother our customers."
That's fine, but if you aren't, your competitors will. You need to use marketing research to understand your customers so well that they will ignore competitive offerings. Building a relationship with your customers is a top priority and it starts with listening to their needs. What better way to do that than through formalized research?
"I'm afraid of the results."
At the end of the day, regardless of the feedback you get, your company will be able to make actionable and constructive improvements to your operations. Yes, even if your NPS score is in the upper 80s. If you truly believe that the feedback will be overwhelmingly negative, the marketing research report can be a vehicle of change within your organization through objective data directly from customers. Knowing you are not meeting your customers' expectations is not a sustainable business model, and if you are using this as a way to avoid market research, you likely have larger problems.
Working with the right marketing research company can solve many of these issues. Much of the methodology and process-bias is eliminated by a well-written script or strong moderator. A good consultant can ensure the results of the research are accurate and actionable no matter what methodology is chosen. Questions? Contact Drive Research at 315-303-2040 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.