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The Disruption and the Promise of ‘Social’ in Market Research Today

PaulAt the Qualitative360 Europe 2013 event in Berlin, Germany, Paul Janowitz, CEO of, and Barry Jennings, director of Global Commercial Insights at Dell made a presentation that took a close look at the “social” aspects of market research being used today and the various social tools that can complement traditional methodologies.

A case study involving Dell’s market research arm was unveiled, and it gave away specific problem areas, which included mistaking innovative research for placing “new wrappers” on traditional recruiting, making new segmentations every quarter, and confusing bad questions as research data.

An effective approach would have been to take advantage of social communities and consumer insights extracted online and to use them to advance product innovation. Also, through appropriate social tools and platforms, a market researcher can ask consumers to post ideas and crowd-source votes from the community. The resulting social data can then be mined and reviewed exhaustively.

After Dell revamped its market research strategy, leveraged social methodologies, and established an interactive social platform to engage customers, the company was able to save $600,000 per year.

For a business to succeed at its marketing efforts, it should validate insights gleaned from its market research initiatives. It may be spending a lot of money, for example, when all it needs is a push toward ROI. And like what Dell did before it realized its errors, it could be endlessly working with the same people or not focusing on going global. It could also fail to prioritize the fact that timelines are becoming shorter and that engagement is vital to entice consumers to buy.

The goal of market research, according to the presentation, is to know the customer. In order to accomplish this, a relationship between the brand and customer must first be established. And an effective way to establish the relationship is for the market researcher to listen to the customer and to cull customer insight via a suitable social platform.

About The Author

Jasper Lim

Jasper Lim is the CEO of Merlien Institute. He frequently reviews the state-of-art of the marketing research industry. Apart from his daily work, Jasper serves as an Editorial Board Member for the International Journal of Work Innovation. He is also an accomplished qualitative researcher with several peer-reviewed academic publications to his name.

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