Need Research? Think Independently

“It is not the strongest species that survive….but the ones most responsive to changeâ€? Charles Darwin

Gone are the days where organizations employed ‘Market Research Managers’ to commission, manage and utilize market research carried out by external agencies; in fact it is very rare these days that a company has such a position. Originally the focus of market research was on marketing issues, and the main users of market research were the marketing departments of large companies. Over time its use has broadened to a wide range of business issues, and today market research is used by a broad spectrum of functions in a wide range of small as well as large organisations. In deed, in recent years, the use of market research has developed very healthily outside the traditional confines of the Marketing and Market Research departments, thanks to the relationships built and skills offered by independent consultants and small/medium research agencies.

Market research carried out by ‘Independent Consultants Group’ and Ciao! shows that independent market research consultants are viewed in a very positive light. Reflecting the individual nature of their service, their key characteristics are creativity (a more flexible approach to problem solving, free thinking) and a good working relationship (good listeners, stimulating to work with) – in addition to experience, actionability, insight, commitment and an understanding of business issues.

The key findings were as follows:

1. Market research is now a highly valued information source, which has become more useful in the past five years

2. Market research is being commissioned by a wide variety of client functions other than Marketing and Market Research. The client base has broadened considerably and this trend seems likely to continue, as market research becomes increasingly a mainstream rather than a specialist tool

3. Confidence appears to be growing in the usefulness of the Internet (presumably as a resource in its own right as well as a tool which makes market research easier to use and more widely accessible – ), and in technological developments which render market research ever more relevant to business issues eg online focus groups –

4. Smaller, independent market research consultants are widely used by research buyers because they have a broader skill set and can work with a more varied client base rather than just the conventional Market Research function

5. Independent consultants are valued for their creativity and problem-solving approach and the good working relationship that they build with clients – good listeners and stimulating to work with. These are important skills which need to be more widely developed in the market research industry.

6. The perception of large/global research agencies tends to be much more associated with offering standard off-the-shelf solutions rather than understanding the problem. They are seen to delegate to juniors and provide information rather than insight. This does not project the right image for the healthy future development of the industry

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