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Will This Sloppy, Boring, Error-ridden Market Research Report Do?

market research reportWhen consumers purchase a product, they expect to get what they paid for.  This is also true when companies purchase market research; unfortunately some no longer receive the high-quality tangible product they paid for, at least according to Gill Wales (as stated in her article published on titled Will This Do.)

As quoted in this article, Justin Gutmann, head of research and insight for Consumer Focus, has a laundry list of problems with many of the reports he commissioned from reputable market research firms.  While firms dazzled him with well-written proposals and promises, the promises turned empty and the end result was a poorly written market research report indicating the writer did not fully grasp, or even understand at all, the subject being researched.  As Gill Wales writes,No matter how skillful the fieldwork, if the report fails to provide a clear and reliable description of the outcome, then the client has acquired a useless product. The fieldwork may as well never have been done.”

These subpar reports can be attributed to a few issues, but as Wales notes, these issues are not difficult to fix.  Often, senior executives are involved in the planning and fieldwork portion of the market research, but delegate the actual report writing to junior analysts.  These junior analysts, while capable, are not properly trained and need more guidance from the senior executives, who are too often M.I.A. Furthermore, the author states that the economic environment today is contributing to market research firms being understaffed but afraid to turn away work, which forces them to sacrifice quality of work in order to keep up.  While this may seem smart today, in the long-run it will hurt them.  As Wales notes, the future for market research professionals lies in their ability to interpret, explain, and present the data that can now be gathered by ever-improving software.   She concludes that only properly trained professionals will be able to keep up with the changing market research environment. Not surprisingly, we at Research Rockstar agree!

Many of the comments on this article agree that the structure of market research firms, especially large ones, has lead to declining report quality.  As one commenter, Ray Poynter, notes, producing a good market research report is time consuming, and, as a result, a good report written by a senior executive costs well above what most companies will pay.  As Research Rockstar’s own Kathryn Korostoff notes, many market researchers she encounters are more than capable of producing good reports; they simply do not have the proper training to do so.  They have no processes, list of best practices, or frameworks to refer to.

Obviously we are biased, but this article raises issues we have been addressing in our market research training programs for over two years.  Good, cost-effective training can solve many of the issues seen in the market research industry today.  Unfortunately, many firms are not willing to pay the traditionally high costs of training.   We are trying to address this by offering more than twenty topics via virtual classroom training, which eliminates the cost and aggravation of travel, as well as having a lower price than in-person seminars.


[Want to learn more? Research Rockstar offers comprehensive market research training through a series of online classes.  These classes come at an affordable price, allowing market research firms to keep costs down while improving quality—thus avoiding the major problem of sacrificing quality for quantity that Gill Wales writes about.]

[The post was written by our fantastic new intern, Todd Haylon.  Well done, Todd!]



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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