3 Must-Haves for Market Researchers to Weather the Perfect Storm in Global Business
If the Market Research industry is to continue in its role as an invaluable partner to global business, it must offer businesses cover from the storms raging in the marketplace, with real-time insights that provide a foundation for fast decision-making.
Over the past few years, the global marketplace has seen a number of dramatic changes that—taken together—have created a perfect storm impacting the way companies do business. And, as the pace of change continues to accelerate, it has become increasingly clear that businesses need a tool in their back pockets that will give them insight into their most important customers’ constantly changing needs.
More Speed and Agility
Businesses are now competing with counterparts down the street and half a world away, making it critical that they gain consumer insights faster than ever before, in order to have the security they need to move forward with a whole range of business decisions. In fact, executives everywhere now virtually equate speed-of-decision-making with success. In a recent article in Fast Company, Upstart founder Dave Girouard writes, “Too many people believe that speed is the enemy of quality. To an extent they’re right—you can’t force innovation and sometimes genius needs time and freedom to bloom. But in my experience, that’s the rare case. There’s not always a stark tradeoff between something done fast and done well.”
The urgency Girouard describes—which is literally permeating the marketplace—has been coupled with ever-tightening budgets and streamlined internal processes as companies seek to stay ahead of a growing field of competitors. That means businesses can no longer dedicate unlimited time and resources to market research studies; they need insights right now and for the right price in order for those insights to have any competitive value. Expensive and lengthy studies that guarantee 100 percent certainty are a thing of the past. In fact, these days insight teams are often asked to deliver product insights in a day’s time or less to support critical and timely strategy decisions. That demand is driving teams to often lean toward a more iterative research approach, for instance fielding short surveys to a limited number of participants as trial balloons, then quickly fielding another survey to follow up on results.
Clearly, the Market Research industry should provide the engine behind driving business’s need-for-speed.
Technology as Centerpiece of Change
Not surprisingly, researchers, both in-house teams and at Market Research firms, have turned to technology as a great enabler. Advanced technologies are making it possible for even small companies to develop deep profiles of their most important customers. Technologies like digital tracking provide clear roadmaps of consumers’ online behavior, while digital assistants and AI jump to the future tense—allowing companies a view of customer intent. More than ever before, technology is allowing researchers and marketers to get to the vital information they need in record-time, making it possible for them to respond to the shifting sands in the marketplace.
Changes in technology are of course a huge factor in promoting change in the global marketplace, driving both businesses and consumers to expect almost instantaneous delivery on the promise of “better, faster, cheaper.” And if one source for goods and services can’t deliver on the promise, they are more than willing to look elsewhere. Think about it: If a consumer can’t find exactly the shade of lipstick she wants on a site like JC Penney, or Walgreen’s, there are plenty of other places she can go. This kind of disruption of the once-static competitive marketplace means companies find themselves in competitive trysts with businesses that were never before on their radar screens. This is clearly a complex situation requiring constant vigilance and a consistent flow of actionable information from insight teams.
Market Research needs to constantly stay ahead of the technology curve, in order to remain an invaluable counselor to its business partners
Demand for Increased Efficiency Through Automation
One way companies are dealing with the intense cost and competitive pressure is by bringing more and more research and media planning functions in-house. A perfect example is Proctor and Gamble, the world’s biggest ad purchaser. In recent years the company has brought an ever-increasing number of functions in-house, with Chief Financial Officer Joe Moeller announcing in January, “We’ll automate more media planning, production and distribution, bringing more of it in-house,” he said. That is a continuation of an effort that has already cut the company’s agency and production costs by $750 million annually in recent years.
Note that P&G’s CFO specifically credited automation in the company’s ability to bring functions in-house. More and more—thanks to advanced technology–companies are able to put research projects in the hands of in-house insight professionals, saving valuable time and resources.
To remain viable, Market Research must provide companies with the tools and expertise they need to effectively automate some research functions, while ensuring accurate results.
Shelter from the Perfect Storm
Like never before, the Market Research industry has come together to provide global business with the tools and expertise it needs to compete effectively in the On Demand universe. The perfect example of this is the newly formed Insights on Demand Consortium, an industry group that brings research professionals together to serve as the vanguard of a new Market Research industry, addressing the next-generation need of business for dynamic insights. In other words, the new Market Research industry will be the shelter from the storm raging in global business.
For a more detailed look at the work of the consortium, go to https://www.insightsondemand.org/