Market Research Training

Success Rates for Big Data, Survey Research & Ethnographic Research

Data Fluency 3What do you think? Which has the highest success rate in Corporate America:  Big Data, Survey Research or Ethnographic Research?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that too many of ALL types of data-producing efforts fail. The projects are done, the data is not used, budgets are broken. Failure. It happens in all types of studies, in all types of organizations.

The point is this: marketers and other business decision makers have lots of ways of getting data on customer behaviors and attitudes. Yet too often, such projects ultimately fail. Why? Based on various studies on this topic, many failed projects are doomed from the beginning. They are doomed because they started with vague, unrealistic, or completely undocumented goals. This root cause has been observed in all types of data-related projects, even those featuring media-darling “big data.” Yes, big data is not immune either.

As described in a December 2015 Forbes magazine article, Top 5 Reasons Why Analytics Projects Fail, “Successful analytics start by identifying the question you’re trying to answer from the data.” This applies to all data-centric projects: people who try to harness the power of data without having a defined goal, will find the process unnecessarily painful and the ROI undoubtedly poor.

That’s why the most important aspect of this course is its emphasis on teaching the critical skill of specifying meaningful goals.  Well-written, precisely thought out goals allow for effective coordination with the market researchers, data scientists and other specialists who will be involved in data-centric efforts. Lack of this deceptively difficult skill thwarts many data-related efforts.

The good news: Big Data, survey research, ethnographic studies and so on all have a high chance for success if we start with precisely documented goals. And that’s why creating meaningful goals is one of the 3 core skills we are teaching in our new course, Data Fluency for Marketers. Students will learn how to use questions and hypothesis generation to define a goal that will drive projects to success. Join us starting February 17th, 2017: Click here for more details and registration options. For team discounts, please contact


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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