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Who says anyone can do market research?

Who says anyone can do market research?
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I have just had a frustrating phone conversation with a marketing manager of a mid-sized drinks manufacturer. Actually, it’s more than frustrating but I am redirecting all my negative energy into this article, (so it could be a rant – that’s for you to decide).

The marketing manager is young, younger than I have spent building a career in marketing and research – that young! She stated that her company does not spend money outsourcing market research other than industry tabs and audit data. All other marketing research they do themselves because “it’s not rocket science….anyone can run a focus group….we get semi-decent results”

Well good for them! Aside from an inevitable bias in design and implementation of their studies, what worries and angers me is this: if that is the view of the younger generation of marketers who have had to manage their activity on smaller recessionary budgets does this mean that decisions are based on limited methodologies and understanding of their customer’s behaviour?

How effective is their research if they are only using standard methodologies such as focus groups, social media monitoring, product tests? Another worry is the amount of time a marketing department can commit to running research programs. “Semi-decent results” doesn’t say much for its design and analysis.

If it is a cost issue, the cost of bad research is poorly executed campaigns, loss of customers, strained relationships down the distribution channels, and internal fractures. I agree that good marketing research is not cheap, but there is a cost in not doing good research.

Do I really need to debunk this view that marketing and market research is not rocket science? You only need to consider the technologies and methodologies developed in data collection, concept evaluation, eye-track monitoring for advertising, behavioural studies, volumetric testing, co-creation clinics – and so on – to know that it does compare to rocket science. We are dealing with the human brain and how it is motivated after all.

I would be interested to know if any readers feel the same as the young marketing manager. At a time when the customer has greater power and influence, isn’t it important that more effort is placed on distilling information from them?

Rant over. It would be good to hear your views on this subject, especially if you are a client marketer.


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