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Market Research in Golden Age – More Challenges Ahead


Photo Courtesy of Nelson Davis & TMRE 2013

As we at RFL Communications enter our 20th year reporting news on market research(MR) power players and the ever-growing number of technology-based research innovation start-ups, it is clear that the number of research introductions is accelerating. That is good, very good and, at the same time, some extremely vexing impacts on MR departments (and thus MR vendors).

Although technology (e.g. online research, mobile research, neuroscience, crowd sourcing, etc.) have reshaped research, as well as advanced its capabilities, it has also created immense confusion about when, how and where to apply emerging techniques. In many instances, this has slowed adoption and frustrated the hopes of MR innovators.

No one in the MR world (excepting, perhaps, Tim Macer) can sit before a research buyer and spell out the 1) practical, 2) possibly useful and 3) virtually useless situations for all the tools in the MR user’s ever expanding tool box. This is not a positive, and needs to be confronted without delay.

In some ways, research is in a golden age. Its presence is unquestioned in almost every client company, with notable jumps in its usage by B2B organizations. CEOs, CFOs and CMOs are demanding better insights right away, seemingly putting the MR department in the proverbial driver’s seat. That is a fabulous opportunity and, unfortunately, a terrific challenge due to budget restrictions and under staffing.

And there is another concern. Warnings about traditional research being supplanted by new research modes, particularly social media research content, may have some validity. The good news: stemming reality is entirely in the hands of client research departments. MR departments can abruptly cut off that threat by paying appropriate attention to what is happening inside their respective organizations. The bad news: recent history suggests that since it has not taken place, it is not likely to take place.

MR ignored CRM when it first reared its head in most companies over a decade ago; it paid attention in some organizations to the arrival of DIY; it has not done enough to become a major (if dominant) player with social media. It’s no longer a matter of the MR department understanding and assisting the business interests of their employing companies; it must now also carefully watch their company’s burgeoning information and insight curiosity.

Here’s a horrible reality: the MR was ignored when it came to CRM, DIY and social media. It’s time for MR to stop waiting to be being asked what it thinks about non-traditional information assessment and collection capabilities and to extend and immerse ourselves into those new internal knowledge, insight and decision-making scenarios.

All in all, it is important for stakeholders to stay in the loop about what is changing in the MR industry, from capabilities; to evolving tools, philosophies, challenges straight through successful client implementations.

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About The Author

Bob Lederer

Bob Lederer is Founder, President, Publisher and Editor of RFL Communications, a multifaceted specialist firm dedicated to providing the market intelligence/media research/consumer insights community with knowledge, insight, advocacy and consultation. He is the creator of RBDR, market research industry's only daily research news video. In 2013, Bob won the NGMR's prestigious 'Individual Achievement Award' for Disruptive Innovation.

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