2 Trends in Market Research from 31 Interviews at IIeX

On February 18th and 19th, Greenbook hosted the 5th annual IIeX in Amsterdam. While the venue was among the best I’ve ever seen, there was an overriding theme that surfaced, research empowerment

After doing over 80 interviews on the Happy Market Research Podcast among some of today’s top minds in market research, a theme is coming into focus: Research Empowerment

There were a ton of great talks and exhibitors a this year’s IIeX Amsterdam. Here are my 2 big takeaways from: 

1. Regardless of where you sit in your organization, consumer experience is part of your job. 

It used to be the case that doing a survey or one-on-one was hard. Those days are long gone. Today there are a host of tools including SurveyMonkey and Discuss.io that facilitate nearly instant access to consumers. 

Today’s tools are easy enough for even my mom to use but robust enough for most professional researchers. But that doesn’t mean research rigor is in place.

Most people who need the consumers’ point of view to inform their work have the ability to do a survey. For example, about 10 years ago a colleague told me there was a study done by Oracle on what tools their staff used to conduct research. They were surprised to learn that there were about 5,000 individual subscriptions to SurveyMonkey! 

Each person who has to make a decision about design that impacts the customer journey, al needs the customers’ point of view in near real-time. Tools make getting this point of view easy. But is that good?

THE PROBLEM

The problem with the democratization of research is that non-researchers often don’t understand the basics. Jake’s tweet on the right talks about many issues facing modern researchers. But show that list to non-researchers and see how much they actually understand.

The question isn’t,

“How do I get untrained researchers that are not in my department to stop doing research?” 

The question is,

“How do I empower them to get quality insights?” 

2. Insight Automation is a tool, not the answer. 

Research Automation as a value proposition has come into full bloom in market research. It addresses the conundrum, 

“Quality. Timing. Cost. Pick 2.”  

By automating the logistics function of research, we can spend more time on the “Now what and so what” of research. The real value prop is “Quality, Timing, and Cost…now you get all 3.”

Leveraging research automation can make hard things like adding external behavior data from your firms data lake become easy…even automated. This leaves you time to build a journalistic narrative that moves the company to change.

But, if Research Managers democratize insights as opposed to trying to centralize them, there must be an approval process. For example, in a recent chat with a P&G exec…they are concerned about research findings from different studies being compared over time.

“There is a lot that can change between studies including market conditions. With out setting the context or understanding what the business has done, you may misunderstand the drivers of of change.” 

Across your organization, people are doing research. This is why you have such a significant rise in data scientists and user experience researchers. Both of those job functions usually sit outside the purview of Market Research and are leveraged heavily because they have integrated insights into the daily tasks and workflows of designers and developers. 

QUESTION

Where and how should researchers deploy research empowerment? To answer this, I have simplified things…maybe too much…into two types of research: 

  1. Macro: These are commissioned by executives and have strategic implications for the business. Researchers must always be involved, if not outright in charge, of this type of work. 
  2. Micro: These spawn when there is a question like, “Which graphic is better?” or “What would the customer want to see here?” or “Is there a missing feature?” These are numerous and made through the organization. While they are not mission critical, the right choice has impact; so we want the person to have the tools and knowledge to incorporate the customer into their thinking. 

Most research that is done outside of the market research function is stuff we’ve been doing for decades: Satisfaction, Usability, Conjoint, Segmentation, etc. This is where we, as market researchers, can pull ahead and offer…

  1. Research automation tools such as Zappi or PureSpectrum offer firms the opportunity to standardize common methodologies and question types. This takes much of the risk out of the research. Additionally, by employing a research knowledge management system like KnowledgeHound you can create visibility on active and past projects ensuring presentations are inline with findings. This is a hell of a lot better than pretending research isn’t being done.
  2. Guidance: Once a month, a colleague of mine creates a SlideShare and then hosts a lunch-and-learn for the User Experience team where they cover a methodology, best practices, new tech, research tips, and Q&A. 

The technology should centralize the research putting research as the principle of insights and allows the organization to become better at getting and understanding the consumer voice.

Summary

So, what is the role of the corporate researcher? In part,

Empowerment

We need to establish best practices and guide the use of the right tools for the right jobs to ensure the implications from the customer views is accurate and impactful. 

As always, it would mean the world if you’d share this article on Twitter or LinkedIn. I wish you all success and happiness!

Shameless Plug

PureSpectrum has a lot to offer on this front. By partnering with existing automation solutions or by building them from the ground up, you can help improve your velocity of insights while saving money. Let me know if you’d like to talk: jamin@purespectrum.com.