The last few years have seen the gap between winners and losers in the market research industry widen substantially. This begs the question - what are the key drivers that create a 'winner' in the modern age of market research'?
It’s increasingly clear that technology is a chief enabler, with conversations in market closely aligning with the findings of the GRIT report. Here are 5 successful strategies consumer insights professionals can do to maximise the return on their data investments.
1. Data Collection & New Data Types
In digital media, we’re seeing a shift in direct liaison between ad-tech platforms and end-client. More brands are contracting directly with the platforms instead of letting their media agency handle it. While the media agency will still usually be the primary users of these platforms, the data should live with the brand -- should they ever want to change media agency generating a new first-party data asset.
This is a smart move as the substantial value in the data held by these platforms always sits with the brand should the brand ever want to move agency, the data will move with them. At Pureprofile we are now seeing the research world closely following suit, with some of the largest global brands contracting directly for their online panel needs, and in doing so building a new, rich, first-party data asset from their existing research spend. Allowing brands to have direct access to their data enables new forms of value creation. Examples include: identifying high value customers in a brand tracker to use as trainer set for a predictive model that creates a target audience when buying media; or matching survey respondents to online or purchase behaviour to optimise product marketing and path-to-purchase by segment.
Winners understand that analytics (and particularly advanced analytics) are a substantial source of competitive advantage, especially when competing against more traditional strategic consultancies that lack market research pedigree. They’re doubling down on investments in both the resources and tools required to deliver these analytics, and are automating as much of the process as possible. The winners are also experts in educating, communicating and ultimately selling the value that these analytics deliver -- no easy feat with the expense analytics can add to a project, but this can be minimised through automation and productisation.
3. Visualization and Dashboards
It is no surprise to see dashboards and data visualization top the charts in investment over the last 12 months. They’re fast becoming table stakes, particularly for templated or standardised research. Brands are beginning to use dashboards as the end output of a wider automation play -- automating their templated methodologies from questionnaire design to fieldwork to data processing and final dashboard delivery. With this in place they can focus their time and effort on the cuts of the dashboard that tell the most interesting and actionable story for different stakeholders -- sharing relevant charts or pulling them into a powerpoint deck to be presented.
Dashboards are also a great tool to drive engagement and impact within the business, particularly when reporting on the KPIs that underpin remuneration.
4. DIY Solutions
When it comes to DIY solutions, we see that the most success for maximum efficiency when it comes to budget allocation. Within the end-client sphere the winners are those that harness their agencies to deliver consultancy on tough questions that require robust methodologies and deep thinking, and resource effectively to deliver the simple stuff themselves. This is where DIY tools come in handy -- scripting a quick questionnaire or leveraging a template and setting live to respondents to gather insights on a dashboard within a few hours, instead of a few weeks is now becoming the new norm. Teams that are wasting valuable budgets paying over the odds for these types of insights will quickly lose competitiveness.
5. Data Integration including warehousing and meta analysis
It will be interesting to see how this space evolves within the research industry in the next few years -- I think it is too much of a leap to think that this will be owned by consumer insights in the near future, but we already see winners in the space working closely with, and driving insight from this data in conjunction with their more traditional research. It is important that researchers are involved when this data is used to derive insight to ensure robustness.
Where is it all heading?
We will continue to see the winners in market research make investments in technology that allow them to focus and deliver on the ‘so what’. This will mean more automation, greater collision of the ‘what’ from big data with the ‘why’ from traditional methodologies, and new and more frequent ways of driving impact via data visualization. We’re in-store for an exciting few years ahead.
My commentary on this subject was also included in the GRIT Report (Greenbook Research Industry Trends) for Q3-Q4, 2017 published January 2018.