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.
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