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Ten reasons NOT to commission market research: Part II

If you commission or conduct market research, then you really should read this post, which concludes the Ten reasons not to commission market research.

Last week I shared with you the first five of my ten reasons not to run a market research project. You can read it here if you missed it. Here are the remaining five reasons.

#6. When findings would not be actionable

If the information will just be “nice to know” but will not be actioned, and I have seen enough of those in my career, then you shouldn’t be running any research. This can happen when the objectives are not well defined, or when action needs to be taken, but no one knows what to do, so they decide to conduct some research.

Running a research project will certainly get people into action, but not necessarily in a relevant way and will anyway delay the required situation analysis that is more important to be undertaken.

#7. When market research is politically motivated

This situation can arise when a researcher is relatively young in his or her career and doesn’t feel confident enough to refuse a project. It can also be linked to a half-hidden requirement from the management concerning the outcome as well. This puts the researcher in the difficult situation of working on a project that will be ignored if it doesn’t confirm the boss’s opinion.

In these situations it is vital to agree upfront what actions will be taken based on the otucome, before the research is undertaken. In fact this is a good idea for all projects; review possible outcomes before the project starts and evaluate the consequent actions that should be taken. They might not be firmly agreed, but at least everyone will have had the chance to review possible outcomes and to think about their consequences, before the results are presented. It will hopefully open peoples’ minds and if this is not the case, well the project should not be run.

#8. When what is to be measured changes only slowly – or too fast

Everyone today underst ands the importance of measuring br and image, to underst and what their customer perceptions are of their offer and how it differs from what was intended. In most industries, unless there is a significant change in the market such as a powerful new competitor or communications drive, the images of the br ands will change relatively slowly over time – certainly more slowly than marketers would like. Therefore it doesn’t make sense to measure it more than bi-annually, or annually at most.

The same would apply to usage and habits in a market where very little is happening and customers rarely switch br ands or segments. In most of these cases, market research run in the last few months can often be sufficient for most assessments of issues and opportunities.

However, there is also the case where habits are changing almost daily, such as in a heavily discounted or promoted category. In these cases, it is best to either run  a continuous measurement and present rolling averages, or measure at the same time each year, accepting that it will be just a “snap-shot” of the true market’s reality at the moment of the fieldwork and will have already changed by the time the results arrive in many situations. Following trends and changes then becomes more important than the actual level at the time of measurement.

#9. When the information provider / institute is not “OK”

Many agencies have been around a long time and have built up solid reputations for high class, accurate data and information gathering. Newer agencies can be faced with a hard struggle to gain market share and a few are tempted to “cut corners” to be able to offer cheaper prices or shorter timings, in order to get the business.

I remember once discovering that an agency had in fact only run half the agreed number of interviews for which we had paid, and had then “weighted” every answer in the database during its analysis to show a larger base size. Unfortunately for the agency, we asked for the weighted and unweighted base sizes – which is always recommended to ensure there are not skews in the sub-samples.  This is how we discovered the deception.

Especially when budgets are tight or timing is too short, neither MR agencies not departments should be tempted to meet the dem ands of management by resorting to such practices.

#10. When the information already exists

This is linked to #1 mentioned last week; all projects should start with a detailed situation analysis during which time all current knowledge, information and underst anding are reviewed. In some cases it can just be due to laziness that a new study is asked, rather than taking the time to review the results of all previous market research surveys and analyses.

This completes my list of the ten reasons NOT to run a market research project. If everyone checks that none of them are the reason why they want to run a project before commissioning the work, it will ensure that resources are used correctly and both client and agency will be happy with the outcome.

Have another point you think should be on the list? Then please share it below.

If you would like to know more about underst anding your customers, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/  Or why not contact us today to discuss how we can help you optimise your own market research processes? No obligation, just opportunity!

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Ten reasons NOT to commission market research: Part I

If you commission or conduct market research, then this post is for you. It shares some of the reasons I have learned over the years for NOT doing research, but which are unfortunately still prevalent today. Here are the first five of my ten; are you guilty of any of them?

#1. When the issue / opportunity is not clear and the objectives are not well defined

Most organisations will have a briefing of some sort, written or oral, for each piece of research required. It usually includes the background to and the objectives of the research, which should be specified in terms of the opportunity or issue identified, as well as the relevant information and data already gathered and analysed. If it doesn’t include these basics, it might mean that someone wanted to know or underst and something and just thought research could quickly provide them with the answers. Wrong! The best studies come from a thorough situation analysis which should include a complete review of all current knowledge and past research findings.

#2. When the cost would exceed the value of doing the research

Following on from the above point, when requesting a study, if the objectives are well defined, then the decisions and actions resulting from the findings should be clear and therefore also the expected benefit of the information too. Thinking about how you will use the data and information gathered is one of the best ways to estimate the true value of it before it is gathered. If the decisions and actions to be taken cannot be clearly expressed, then the research results will be just “nice to know” and not “need to know”.

#3. When the budget is too small to do an adequate job

Most agencies would agree that clients often want a top-class work, but at a lower price than it would cost. Some clients even make a point of negotiating all prices downwards on principle, but their reputation soon goes before them and agencies start adding an amount that they will then remove in answering the client’s request for a cost reduction.

A second example of this aspect of cost is when a client wants to do some research but doesn’t have an adequate budget to cover it, so requests something “quick and dirty”. My recommendation would always be to refuse to get involved in such a project. If it is worth doing it is worth doing well, and a good agency will always work with the client to accommodate their needs as best they can within the budget available.

#4. When time is an enemy

How many times have you been asked to run a research project, but in fact the requestor is actually in need of the results – now?! As already mentioned in #3 if a study is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Today there are luckily more opportunities to reduce the time needed to run a study, using panels, the web, or by reducing the sample size or number of groups / regions. Again the best projects are developed as a win/win, with client and agency working together to deliver the highest quality results within the available resources of both time and money.

#5. When conducting the study would “tip off” the competition

This is a difficult situation to be in, as this is often a worry of management, especially when running research on innovation projects. Whilst it is a very valid concern, and a lot can be done to limit the risk, it cannot really be totally eliminated.

There is also the view that in many industries, all major companies are often working on very similar developments within a similar time scale, so competition is not likely to be surprised if they learn about your own efforts. The most important thing to do to reduce to a maximum the risk of tipping off the competition, is to ensure that people who work or have friends or family members working in relevant professions and positions, are eliminated at the start of the research.

Next week I will complete the list with the remaining five reasons not to do market research, but I would already like to know if you have been guilty of any of these and if so, what you did to correct the situation.

If you would like to know more about underst anding your customers, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/  Or why not contact us today to discuss how we can help you optimise your own market research processes? No obligation, just opportunity!

Please share this post with all your colleagues who you would like to help underst and why not all market research requests are approved!

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