July 31, 2019
Following recent conversations with colleagues and potential clients, I realized it would be worthwhile to dispel a few incorrect ideas that people have about market research. For those who don’t know, market research is defined as the process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information about a market, product or service.
So, without further ado, I frequently hear the following qualms:
Market research can be done quickly, but it depends on a few factors. If you are doing a survey of US consumers without a lot of qualifying characteristics (e.g. US consumers over 18 who have a cellphone), that type of research can be done very quickly. Research can take longer when you want to speak to a niche audience. A few ways to speed up the process is to come to the research team with ideas and questions you need answered. We can build out the project and questions around specific topics to assure you receive informative data. Fielding times vary depending on the number of people you want to survey and how defined you want your audience to be. If you only want the raw data or a shorter report, the length of time can be reduced even further. But I would say the standard research project is around eight weeks, six if you push an accelerated timeline. Even then, isn’t it worth two months to make an informed decision?
Research can be done on any budget. LEWIS always has discussions upfront to make sure that we can do a project within the specified budget, but we also caveat where we cannot cut costs. If you want to speak to CMOs, it will cost you, but if you are willing to talk to a decision-maker about marketing tools, that will cost you less. If you have an expensive audience you need to target, think of research as an investment in getting you the right information to make an informed decision so that you don’t have to pay a higher price later. Also, only do research to answer a question you can’t find an answer to or to gain information that is otherwise unavailable through other channels. A good researcher will advise you if the information you seek is readily available elsewhere.
You think you know your customers? You may know a lot about your customers’ habits, but do you know why they make the choices they make and what motivates them? Many clients I have worked with are drowning in information. They need researchers to make sense of all the information available. Researchers can help you navigate and focus on what truly matters to your consumers. Customers’ needs are also constantly changing. If you aren’t collecting information on your customers regularly, you may not have as good of a grasp on their needs as you think.
You may think you can write your own survey or use one of the many research tools that exist out there and you can, but I would advise you to hire a researcher instead. This response isn’t just so I can have job security, but it is the same as with any other industry. You go to a doctor when you need healthcare, you call the repair guy when something breaks in your home. We are specifically trained to write survey questions and to analyze the data once we have it. Trust us to help you along the way. It always pains me when I see a poorly written survey or when I hear about how a decision was based on bad data because they didn’t know what they were doing.
So you work in a complicated industry and you are concerned that a researcher will not be able to understand it? It is our job to learn difficult information and to help guide you. We may have questions along the way, but it is feasible! Some research firms specialize or have expertise in a specific vertical or industry so don’t be scared to look around to find the right market research company for you. We will be honest about what we do and don’t know, and any information you can provide to us to help us get a better understanding is welcomed. In certain instances, qualitative research may be better suited for your research. In fact, we recommend doing both qual and quant research for most projects.
Lastly, you may think research is a ‘nice to have’ and not a ‘need to have?’ Would you fly on a plane without knowing that it has been tested so that it can fly? Yes, that may be extreme (and I love to travel and fly), but my point is that we make decisions based upon the information we have and the tools that are available to us. If you are not collecting information or checking or verifying your hypotheses, you are making choices based on your gut or what you believe to be true of the world. The world is changing faster than ever before; now is not the time to guess!
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