Friday, January 7, 2011

Garbage In - Bad Research Out

Market Research is more necessary than ever - product development cycles are shortened, margins are thin(er), consumer driven innovation is building the next generation of get the idea. Grab a recent copy of Inc. or Fast Company and you will see articles on iCitizen (citizen generated government innovation), The Customer Is The Company - Threadless (fully crowd-sourced product innovation - we will call this market research, since we are research types), and many, many more. The connection between company and customer is getting tighter and research + technology must keep up with it to provide the data, communications and intelligence. For my take on this that was printed in Inc. read HERE.

What does all this mean for Market Research. It is positive and negative. The positive side is that research is getting a seat at the executive table, is part of product development, drives the customer experience and is an integral part of the innovation process. It also means panels are being over used, and some corners are cut by clients or research partners to "just get it done and get some numbers". If you don't pay attention to quality at the front - who is answering that fancy conjoint survey, all the segmentation and animated PowerPoint slides mean nothing, in fact they are worse than nothing, they are wrong.

How wrong?

In a recent Havard Business Review summary the following alarming facts were pointed out:

  1. In 13 out of 18 panels 32% or more of panelists said they took 10+ surveys in the last 30 days (Research by: Burke)
  2. 14% of panel respondents in one panel claimed to own all 10 items on a list - one of those items was the Segway scooter (only 80,000 were ever sold, so this is about 1,000+% off, that is well beyond the acceptable margin of error!). (Research by: Theo Downes-Le Guin at Market Strategies)
We can we as researchers do about this? Quite a bit actually. We will be writing more on this subject and launching a revolutionary new research platform to address some of these basic issues in the coming months. Questions before then? Give us a call or send an email to:

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