Archive for the ‘Research Methods’ Category
BIG, the Business Intelligence Group, in conjunction with the ICG, is hosting its second Northern forum of 2013 in Manchester on 5th June. The event, entitled ‘Look underneath your nose’, is all about using a little bit of imagination and insider know-how to get a head start on your research requirements. In short, there is an enormous amount of intelligence out there at little or no cost, if we only look for it.
The guest speaker is B2B International founder and director Paul Hague, and we love that the event is marketed as the chance to “hear one of the most seasoned (pickled?) market researchers on the planet” speak of his experiences about getting information for next to nothing. What more can we say?!
If you’re interested in attending this event – and why wouldn’t you be? – it could be the best £5 you’ve ever spent! For more information, please visit the BIG website.
We always read with great interest the GreenBook Research Industry Trends Report. This publication contains a number of interesting articles and insights into our beloved market research industry – both from the perspective of suppliers like ourselves and from the point of view of the clients who use us.
The latest report (12th Edition) was published recently and looks at the trends, technologies and methodologies that are coming to the fore at the present time, and how these are impacting on the industry in the immediate and the near term. Please click here to view the full report.
The market research industry has change immensely in the past decade or so with the arrival of the internet and its subsequent advances – and few would argue that the industry has not benefited tremendously from this digital revolution. Yet does this mean ‘traditional’ market research no longer has a place?
In an article featuring in the latest issue of Quirk’s, Stephen Turner argues that a hybrid approach is always the best when it comes to a well-rounded market research project. It’s hard to disagree with his reasoning:
Of course, all research methodologies have their respective pros and cons; nor is this the first time that advancements in the industry have caused people to sit back and reassess things. Back in the day, face-to-face, house-to-house opinion polling went into decline as postal and telephone surveys gained in popularity. Both of these ‘new’ methodologies had distinct advantages but also a number of drawbacks – it’s difficult, for example, to provide visual stimuli during a telephone interview. It’s probably fair to say that every approach has advantages but leaves something out in the process.
There is no doubting that the internet is an extraordinary tool which has redefined our ability to reach diverse segments of people. However, like all of the new techniques before it, there is still an important body of information left on the table, even as technology brings us ever closer to the experience of face-to-face communications. Non-verbal communication (body-language, posturing, etc.) forms an important part of our understanding, and simply goes undetected when interviewing does not take place face to face.
The problem is, of course, that face-to-face work is expensive and time-consuming. It is especially difficult when you need to talk to people who are geographically dispersed. Yet, Turner argues that, in spite of the huge amount of reliable and valid information garnered elsewhere, face-to-face interviews are essential in order to truly understand peoples’ thoughts, feelings and dispositions toward the products, services and communications that we research.
Turner concludes by advocating the development of hybrid approaches to research which include various components. In essence, this is what we at B2B International do each time a client comes to us with a market research ‘problem’ they need help in solving. We look at all the different ways we could go about gathering the required intelligence, weigh up the pros and cons of each methodology and (taking into account any additional budgetary and time constraints) propose the most suitable combination of methodologies to best fit the bill.
Find out more about the techniques and tools we use here.
You can read the article in full here.
Daniel Attivissimo this week looks at the defining steps that will make or break a market research project.
What do a doctor, automotive mechanic, and market research professional all have in common? Their ability to provide conclusions and information on solutions relies on the mastery of one fundamental step – defining the nature of the problem.
Peter Drucker, influential management consultant, once stated, “The truly serious mistakes are made not as a result of wrong answers but because of asking the wrong questions.” This simple and almost elementary observation outlines one of the leading causes behind many marketing research project failures.
To put this theory into everyday terms, I’ll use a relatable personal experience as an example. Recently, I had the pleasure of breaking down on the highway which led to my car being worked on for the better part of a week. The symptoms were obvious, the car wasn’t running at all, but the underlying problem was not as apparent. Working with only the symptoms would not have been enough information for the mechanic to properly address and fix the problem. It was necessary to dig a little deeper into the underlying causes behind the problem before deciding what the best method of fixing the car would be.
Sounds pretty understandable, right…..?
Well, the marketing research process is very similar to the example I just gave, in which the process is integrated and iterative – meaning, that no step is independent and the results of the previous steps affect the design and outcome of the following steps. That is why the most important step of all is the first step, defining the problem at hand – not just describing the symptoms (i.e. declining market share, decreasing profit margin, etc.). It sets the course for everything else in the research design, from the objectives and methodology to the questionnaire design all the way through to the presentation of the results to the client.
By definition, our responsibility as marketing researchers is to provide our client (typically some form of management) with information that aids in decision making. One of the most disastrous outcomes of a marketing research project would be reaching the end of the project only to find out that the information obtained holds little to no relevance in addressing the true nature of the business issue. The waste of time and money would be likened to the mechanic returning your car only to find yourself broken down a few miles down the road – but at least you have that new oil filter and full supply of windshield wiper fluid.
To effectively accomplish the task of identifying the problem (or opportunity), we must first gather all pertinent information to fully understand the background of the business issue. Three useful steps would be:
Below, is a comparison of the example of a mechanic and a general business issue that many companies face:
Figure 1: Identifying The Problem To Design The Research
please click on the image to enlarge
In the end, because of the mechanic’s ability to effectively define the problem causing my car to not run, he was able to provide me with a cost effective solution.
In the same way, the research team at B2B International is expert at providing its clients with actionable insights because of an acute attention to fully defining the background to the business issue, translating it into a research problem, and designing an appropriate approach that will effectively provide our clients with information that addresses the problem.
In this weeks Thursday Night Insight, Simi Dhawan finds a stark difference in the Inuit daily routine when compared to her own, but also finds undertones of universal similarity.
I’m turning into my dad. Not quite the revelation that a twenty-something female should readily admit, but there it is. I accept this statement on the grounds that I thoroughly enjoyed watching “Human Planet” on the box this evening – gripping stuff indeed. The content could not have been more apt as I watched how men and women across the globe wondrously survive Arctic conditions – whilst my mind flipped back to the photos emailed by colleagues in our New York office this afternoon displaying the 17 inches of snow that had fallen overnight!
It’s often easy to accept your daily routine as you instinctively follow a set pattern of behaviours day-in, day-out. Get up. Brush your teeth. Get dressed. Eat breakfast. Go to work – and so on. In doing so, it’s no wonder that you can forget about the bigger picture and fathom that human beings across the globe live a completely different lifestyle to your own. Today, I watched in awe as I learned of how an Inuit’s dogs are more than merely “Man’s Best Friend” in Greenland, but are their only reliant means of transport to source food and other resources for their survival. Whilst we grumble and curse if our boiler breaks down, there are those who can within minutes create warmth in dangerously freezing conditions by building an igloo with just their hands for tools – now that’s resourceful.
Whilst the programme unfolded and I watched mesmerized by how “different” life in other corners of the world is, perhaps the most interesting revelation was that, in fact, it isn’t much different at all. This occurred to me as one Inuit turned to his brother during a hunting expedition and grumpily requested that “he stop snoring so loudly this time!”
Whilst I don’t claim to be sledged to work every morning by 12 Greenlandic dogs across sea ice, what I can profess is that as human beings, our basic needs for survival do not change. How we go about achieving these needs in our everyday existence is merely a product of our environment and heritage, but in essence, these are universally the same.
In B2B market research, some of our prospective Clients would feel reassured to learn that we’ve previously worked within a similar industry to theirs. However, in truth, whilst this logic stands to reason, I’m confident that my colleagues would agree that whether we have or not makes little odds when compared with what really matters; the question or objective that the research is seeking to address. When we’re designing a study that will shed meaningful light on an issue, we don’t worry so much about the sector as we do about the research method we’ll adopt and the specific questions we will ask. If we’re product testing, then we know a demo within a focus group is likely to ascertain the most meaningful results – whether the industry is education or sanitaryware, what matters is that the audience is the right one and the questions we ask will give us the answers we need.
As people, we enjoy the possibility that we are unique, but yet feel reassured when we are backed by others. In the same way, whilst businesses thrive on standing apart from their competitors, they equally enjoy keeping a keen eye on their competition. A risk assessment could be carried out before an important decision is made. However, in simple terms you have two options: you take risks and lead the market by innovation or you opt for a more sensible approach and wait for others to take the leap first. If the market reacts positively, you can jump on the bandwagon and strike whilst the iron’s hot (to win market share of a market which you now know exists) or you go back to the drawing board if the market is not forthcoming.
As a researcher, the most rewarding aspect of what we do is knowing the value that you can add to such a decision. I don’t say this with any agenda, but from experiences that I’ve repeatedly encountered. During a project brief, you are completely at the mercy of those responsible for informing you about their business and the particular product, service or market that is being explored. However, post-research at the project de-brief, it never fails to intrigue all involved how much more insight is warranted from research – from the voices of the market as it stands now, rather than an assuming perspective that is slightly out of sync.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have the fundamental demeanour to call myself a risk-taker, simply because, by genetic default, I like to think things through and take measured decisions. However, given the right tools, information and intellectual ammunition, there would be no reason why I wouldn’t take a risk to try and reap the rewards in doing so! Indeed, this is what market research gives you. It’s the balance between a blind-sighted gamble and a calculated risk. It’s realising that to know your market you need to listen to what it wants and stay close to it. Like our fellow human Inuit’s across the globe, it’s imperative that to survive any condition (however extreme), you need to keep alert of every changing aspect of your environment – only taking risks once you have acquired all the necessary skills and resources you can pool together to do so.