From Rich Data to Big Data: Tackling the Latest Trends in Market Research
Recently I attended a small round table event which delved into the latest trends in Market Research. The discussion was to cover the hottest topics in market research from qualitative online interviewing and social media to big data. What was surprising was the lack of these “hot topics” in the actual discussion. When talk of latest trends started – there were none! There was mention of the great divide between marketing and researchers – how they need to get closer to one another, then a great debate ensued as to whether a 30 minute survey was useful or not. These are not new trends – they are as old as the hills! When asked about new tools – the panel stated there were none. (None?! Really?!) Instead, there was talk of EKG’s and eye-tracking technology – both decades old. How about some insights on online interviewing or social media? Nope! It was like the panel itself was trying to sell themselves on the idea that Market Research is important. That companies need it in an age where data is everywhere. That DIY may or may be somewhat useful, but dangerous and unskilled. There were lots of small pieces to a puzzle and no guidance on how they fit together, where the benefits are and what the answers are. It left me asking myself, “Isn’t this why market research exists?” Market research enables marketers to take information and answer the “Why?”
Smart data people, insightful, actionable data, great info, great dimensions and tons of possibilities… so what? Marketers need insights that they can use now and it’s our role to find them those insights and provide guidance on how best to implement them.
Don’t get me wrong, market research still provides great value and it should not be tossed aside in this digital age. Talking with your customers, interviewing them, etc. still can play a role – however, the real learnings come when it is combined with online, click stream and behavioral data. I encourage marketers to start small and start smart. When done right you can action a piece of data today and get results which show a return immediately. If marketers can’t get to actionable insights and clarity in a matter of hours or days, not weeks or months, the learnings go down the drain as fast as the budget to do so. If market research wants to play, its needs to not operate in a bubble and become part of an operational program. Blur the lines, join the party and figure out how to answer the “Why?” for marketers in the midst of a very fast paced machine.