Pardon the use of quotations, but I am trying to make a point.
Numerous articles have been written, and debates engaged, about the question, “Are market researchers bad marketers?” It does strike one as odd—that a profession so driven to understand customer attitudes and behaviors, can’t seem to apply the discipline for its own marketing—and ultimately revenue-generating—benefit.
Is it just the case of the cobbler’s children having no shoes?
Well, I got a big clue earlier this month. I won’t name names, but I heard a researcher from a well-known firm talk about their, “new approach to market segmentation.” And about ten minutes in, I reached three conclusions.
- Yes, his company is doing some cool stuff to leverage social media research to gain insights about specific target markets
- But he was using the term “segmentation” incorrectly; his methodology is about profiling existing, known segments previously identified by his clients—not discovering the best ways to segment a market. What his firm is doing is profiling, or creating personas as some prefer, but it is not a “segmentation study.”
- And apparently his clients don’t care. His firm is apparently doing very well selling segmentation studies that rely on “listening” to social media—not asking questions. And on profiling segments; not defining them.
I have to say, this speaker deserves major kudos for understanding his market segment; that there are a lot of marketing decision makers who want fast, social media-based profiling of their existing segments. This guy understands what his market wants, and he is giving it to them.
So what did this all teach me?
Often, making a complex thing really simple is what leads to marketing success. A classic example: for years AOL was the preferred email platform of choice for the average American consumer; we techie types cringed, but the masses loved it. And unfortunately, the masses don’t always appreciate the brilliance of more complex products—or in our case, of more rigorous market research. Calling a profiling study “market segmentation” may make researchers cringe, but to a lot of people who buy market research, it may be just fine.
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