Standing out from the ‘consumer insight crowd’ is more challenging today than ever before. Research methodologies are wide ranging and expanding continuously with more technologies being developed at incredible speed. So, if you are looking to say ahead of the game, here are a few things to bear in mind as 2018 takes shape.
During the last decade a vast an array of new data sources, collection mechanisms and analysis techniques have made their way into the insight arena including behavioural and social media analytics which, the Cambridge Analytica fallout aside, experts are only predicting increased use of.
It’s great to see such expansion and innovation in our industry, it takes triangulation to the next level, but it’s not an out with old situation by any means. Qual and quant data is still at the foundation of all insight outcomes. The difference between market research data (obtained via focus groups, surveys, diary studies, online communities, neuroscience, biometrics, eye tracking, facial coding, etc.) and behavioural data and social media data is size of course, but it’s also the way in which it is collected. It’s passive. Market research is more proactive. Those who will gain the advantage as this data revolution continues will be those who take the best of both worlds, i.e. those who integrate their big data and market research outcomes effectively.
When it comes to market research specifically and the qual and quant debate I am a firm believer in mixing the methods. Percentages and numbers, accurate as they are, mainly capture a group consensus and can overlook individual opinion. Use your inner ‘qually’ creativity to dig for that detail. On the flip side look at adding some quant to your qual by making use of tagging, coding, sentiment analysis and/or a scale survey. Some of the latest research technologies are highly successful in integrating both approaches.
Market Research Tools
With more insight tools out there than ever before, it’s easy to get distracted by new technologies… and why shouldn’t we? Moving with the times is important. However, the ideal tool(s) to fulfil your research agenda effectively may not necessarily be the latest one(s) off the production line! Do your background research to increase awareness of all options available to you before taking the plunge. Carefully match your research objectives to the right technologies. ‘Match’ is the key word here. Your tool(s) need to work in harmony with your insight aims. My advice would be; make a list - 5 reasons why each tool chosen is necessary for the research initiative in question, how they will benefit the project. This will help you to decide if the tools you want are the tools you actually need.
I would also encourage adding touch of creativity into the mix. People get bored easily – clients (be they internal or external) and participants. An innovative, visual environment will make your research stand out and keep your users engaged. Consider a revamp of both of your research platform and your insight presentation format, some fresh new ideas never go a-miss.
Professional Insight Skills
On the skills front; look to those who have been before you. Insight experts really are experts. They don’t just generate data, they have the skills to go beyond. Their experience is invaluable. If you have access to any of such experts work closely with them, listen to them, learn from them. One of the best tools is knowledge. Once you have it you can look to develop it. Without it, you’re building your castle without a foundation. And final note on this topic – don’t let your team get stuck in a rut. As well as learning new skills yourself, encourage your team to do so. Those extra skills could be the difference between competitive edge and yesterday’s news.
We’re all unique in one way or another so get to grips with the needs and wants of your ‘client’. It’s all about understanding their priorities, their challenges, their roadmap... Differences exist in research objectives and therefore its nature, in organisational culture, in department aims, in budgets, and capabilities/skillsets. When planning your research, be it a one off project or a continuous schedule consider the unique characteristics of your insight stakeholders.
On the market research frontline communication is key to success. Use the right method of communication for the exchange in question, be it email, conference call, or a face to face meeting. Keep in close contact with your client, suppliers, participants and team members. Build rapport with these individuals. A good working relationship supports agility and insight quality.
Don’t be afraid. When you communicate (at least outside of your department or agency) speak confidently, calmly and always have a game plan. Organisation and planning will ensure that your exchange is effective which is important to reassure your client that they are in capable hands. Regular communication is good communication, but regular communication needs to be confident, friendly and meaningful!
There is no one thing that will see you thrive in these face paced, ever competitive industry times. There are many parts to the consumer insight whole, some small, some a little larger. The most important piece of evaluation advice I can give you is; start. Development is a cycle, not a straight line. Review one area, make the required changes, then move on to the next and continue in this way. You will reap the rewards of staying current.