Best PracticesCustomer InsightsMarket Research

Market Research Results: Dare to Share

Sharing market researchIf your company invests in market research that generates fresh customer insights, should you hold it tightly, or should you share it?

There are some obvious cases where you hold it tightly. Data that is specific to proprietary product ideas is a good example.  But other cases aren’t so clear-cut.

When in doubt, share it. At least some of it.

A Tale of Lost Market Research Opportunity

A few years ago, I worked with a technology company on a large survey project. Very fresh stuff.  They discovered customer needs and values that could be leveraged in totally original marketing messages. They identified unmet customer needs that could be addressed simply by repackaging existing products.  In short: we had lots of cool data on our hands.

Enthusiastic about the research’s findings, a VP at the company invited me to a meeting with one of their largest distribution partners—a huge, well-known company. He asked me to share a subset of the data with them. At the meeting, the distribution partner had 12 attendees—all people who have direct influence over their business relationships. I presented some key findings. They loved it. They even offered to reciprocate by sharing some new research they had done. We started to talk about the results, generating ideas about possible implications for business opportunities and product innovations. We planned next steps.

It was great. There was real energy.

The next day, I got an email from my client. He had returned to his office to have his hands severely slapped for sharing research results. And not too long after that, this clear-thinking, collaboration-minded VP left that company. I wasn’t surprised. I would have, too.

The Greatest Market Research Risk?

Yes, market research can yield a competitive advantage. And it costs a lot of money. So I understand the inclination to keep it secret and for inside-eyes-only.  But really, in most cases, what is the risk? The biggest risk is that you share the data with someone and they give it to a competitor. How likely is that, really? It’s a lot more likely that you will give them data, and they will ignore it.

But if you did share fresh market insights with another organization and as a result created new opportunities, wouldn’t that be great? Isn’t that a risk worth taking?

If research results can help business partners, inspire clients, encourage employees or motivate suppliers, I encourage you to consider it.

The potential upside is fantastic. And few companies are bold enough to do it.

[What do you think? I welcome comments here or contact me by email:]


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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