You may have seen that television commercial for a vaccination that begins with the premise that most of the things you do to keep healthy have to be done more than once. You can’t eat one blueberry, or one piece of kale, do one sit-up, or one Downward Dog, and expect instant results. So why do businesses think they can be successful with only one marketing research study?
Marketing research is invaluable in answering short-term tactical questions. But that is perhaps the low-hanging fruit for businesses when it comes to marketing research. The much higher-value results of marketing research are achieved by institutionalizing marketing research within your business operations and planning. Marketing research is the food that grows and strengthens your knowledge culture and that supports the development of effective strategy.
Information from recurring marketing research helps businesses in several ways:
- Track change. It happens time and again in business. We think we have a problem, so we do a survey, a focus group, or some other type of marketing research. That information confirms the problem. So we take action. But did that action solve the problem? Did customer satisfaction and loyalty increase? Did brand perceptions move in the desired direction? Without repeating that research over time, you’ll never know.
- Maintain improvements. Typically, we want to change a negative situation. But more important is making sure that improvement continues, and even, hopefully, builds on itself. The only way to understand whether the improvement is permanent or fleeting is to do recurring marketing research.
- See the future. By looking at information over time, you can identify themes and emerging trends. These trends and themes are essential to keeping ahead of the market. By conducting marketing research over time, you can see your results change and put together the story of the future.
- Integrate information. Recurring marketing research allows you to combine research data with other sources of business information. By understanding changing consumer attitudes, and combining those changes with your sales trends, you can learn to project and understand behavior. Without recurring information, however, you don’t have the whole picture.
- Ask the right questions. Vijay Mahajan and Jerry Wind write, “Marketing research needs to be recognized as part of the organization’s knowledge-creation process. In a dramatically changing global environment, business leaders need constant contact with the market to make the best decisions. … For example, companies that measure market share often neglect to ask the deeper questions such as: What is the market? Should the company look at global market share, and if so, should it focus on dollars or units, and at what exchange rates? Within that market, should the company look at the share of the total market or the “share of wallet” of its current customers? How can the company get more from its total spending?” Better and more frequent information leads to better questions.
Marketing research is not a perfect tool, and it will probably cost money. But just as you wouldn’t deprive your body of food, how can you deprive your management processes of information? Introducing recurring marketing research projects into your management knowledge base won’t improve conditions overnight, but it will have an immediate impact on how your managers think about your business, leading to better decisions and more success.
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What a superb explanation. Marketing research could not be explained any better!
This article makes a lot of sense to me because you definitely want to have questions answered with marketing research. I am a marketing major in college right now and I’ve learned a lot about how valuable market research could be to a company. I also really like what was said about making sure you keep improving your data!
Tracking change has been the most vital aspect to market research for me.
Thanks for the post!
– Jesse, TechUnmasked