4 ways to use market research to build brands customers love
As part of the wider marketing community, Market Research has long been a strategic partner as we evolve our marketing capabilities and develop our brand strategies. And coming out of a recent project which included 'researching market research' I believe more than ever that the research fraternity play an incredibly valuable role in building brands customers love. However, we also identified four emerging trends and areas where I believe market researchers can up their game, and I share these here:
An area of traditional strength for market research as long as the industry remains brave and experiments with new and emerging techniques. Behavioural Economics is an area gaining more and more traction as a valid means of explaining consumer decision-making. Behavioural Economics challenges the idea that we always act rationally and emphasises the critical emotional factor in decision making. It accepts that, as consumers, we don't always do what we say we're going to do and are probably better placed to explain our decisions after we've made them. We're more post-rational than rational. It's welcoming to see supportive voices from the advertising industry, often market research's harshest critic, embracing and encouraging this developing area.
Well-established in some industries, unheard of in others. Insight is the obvious evolutionary step for the market research industry to add even more value. Some progressive teams, typically in the consumer sector, are already looking beyond insight as they continue to grow and advance. At Coca-Cola, for example, their vision is to '…go from insight providers to creative problem solvers, storytellers, disruptive thinkers and visionaries, acting to shape, change and light the way.' For other industry sectors such as pharmaceuticals and the financial sector there is plenty of opportunity to develop and enhance insight skills.
An emerging trend for business generally (and as noted by a recent blog post by Brand Learning COO, Michele McGrath). While the market research industry's ability to develop knowledge is an unparalleled strength (and arguably under-celebrated), communication is not a characteristic for which there is much praise. Death by PowerPoint, too much data not enough meaning and boredom are familiar complaints. Story-telling combined with better data visualisation are clear areas of developmental opportunity for which there is so much material available to help us perform rather than present. Stories connect us with our audience. Researchers should spend more 1-2-1 time with customers and use those experiences to tell stories to make their points and then back up their points with the hard facts and data from their research projects.
4. Consulting skills
Some people get it, others don't. Aimed more at client-side research teams this trend is a call for more proactive behaviour from researchers to challenge their brand teams. Brand teams want their research colleagues to cajole and persuade, to push back, lead the way and disrupt the norm with new ideas. By effectively and constructively challenging a brand team, their thinking gets more robust and better. They unite with absolute certainly that their strategic direction is the right direction – ready for any senior manager to test their conviction with difficult questions. There is no reason why market researchers cannot develop their behaviours and voice to be heard and valued more.
So, if you work with or in the market research industry, do you agree that these areas of capability are the right areas to develop? Let us know your thoughts.