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Avoiding Mediocrity in Market Research

In your organization, what happens when someone proposes a market research study?

  • Do people roll their eyes?
  • Do people perceive it as a decision making delay tactic?
  • Do people readily volunteer to be involved in designing the project?
  • Do any executive-level folks readily endorse the idea?
  • Do people begin telling stories of past, failed research studies?
  • Do they enthusiastically name a market research agency they enjoyed working with in the past?

Be honest; in your organization, what happens when the topic of market research arises?

If the response is largely negative, it may be time to invest some effort into changing internal market research perceptions.  It may even be time to do a little internal research—gasp!—a market research satisfaction survey.

I recently worked with a client to do just that: conduct a short, internal survey about market research perceptions. We asked just 8 questions, including one open-ended. We intentionally kept it nice and short.  What we learned confirmed some fears (such as the fact that many people felt that research was done too slowly—by the time they got hard data, the relevant decisions had already been made). We also discovered some unexpected things—which were useful to hear as well, even if a little harder to swallow.  The process also identified some extreme critics, who we immediately met with to brainstorm improvement ideas. Involving the critics in the brainstorming was challenging, I admit, but very useful.

If you feel uncertain about how market research is perceived, or if you simply want to understand what may be driving dissatisfaction with research, it may be time to practice what we preach: listening to our clients and measuring their attitudes and behaviors.

[BTW, I am thinking about writing a white paper on this topic. Perhaps to be titled, “Measuring Satisfaction with Market Research: Practical Approaches.” What do you think? Is that a good topic? Any suggestions or feedback welcome here as a comment, or via email at KKorostoff@ResearchRockstar.com or call me at 508.691.6004 ext 705. Thanks!]


Kathryn Korostoff

Kathryn Korostoff is founder and lead instructor at Research Rockstar. Over the past 25 years, she has personally directed more than 600 primary market research projects and published over 100 bylined articles in magazines. She is also a professor at Boston University, where she teaches grad students how to analyze and report quantitative data.

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4 thoughts on “Avoiding Mediocrity in Market Research”

  1. Sounds awesome! The more we understand how research is perceived the better equipped we are to advocate for its practical application/s. I would contend that we don’t ask these kind of questions often enough!

  2. People who roll their eyes have not done market research correctly and see the tremendous results that can be achieved with it as a important tool for marketing as well as PR. PR legend, David Ogilvy, was a huge advocate for market research and testing before launching any campaign.

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