Qualitative Research
Trends in Market Research

The Evolving World of Marketing Research: What CMOs Need To Know

Jeff Hecker
Summary: Here are 5 Tips for Navigating the Evolving (and confusing!) World of Marketing Research

If you’ve seen the deluge of articles about how market research is evolving, you know these are exciting times. There is plenty of new thinking and lots of new methodologies, but for research buyers it can feel like they are navigating uncharted waters.

Given the need to manage budgets and deliver actionable results, how is anyone to know whether Mobile Research, Neuroresearch, Facial Micro-Expression Analysis, or one of another half-dozen novel methodologies will lead to better insights than the tried and true forms of research we’ve all relied on for years?

Most companies are maintaining traditional approaches while “dipping a toe” into a new methodology here or there. Some companies are taking a more aggressive approach to embracing new thinking and approaches – with mixed success.

Here are 5 tips to navigating the “new world” of market research, culled from our collective experience at Athena Brand Wisdom.

  • Traditional research best practice is still best practice. You need to apply the same rules of thumb to research, regardless of what methodology you are using. Have clear objectives. Assess existing research before you commission new research. Be relentless about focus.
  • Sometimes the traditional tools are still the right tools. The new methodologies add to our toolbox, rather than replace it. While online research can deliver all kinds of interesting insights, often there’s still no substitute for seeing and hearing your consumers in-person. Neuroresearch does a great job of pinpointing what emotions consumers may be feeling, but still can’t tell you why. Don’t succumb to the idea that traditional methodologies are “dated” just because they’ve been in use a long time.
  • Don’t be afraid to combine methodologies. One of the most compelling thoughts in research right now is the notion of triangulation or “bricolage”; using multiple approaches to reveal different aspects of a consumer dynamic. Semiotic analysis and focus group research go great together. So do ethnography and quant. The added benefit here is that you can test-drive a new methodology while at the same time using an approach you are familiar with.
  • Be mindful of your corporate culture. A methodology may be compelling to you, but it also has to be an approach that will be compelling to your organization. If the approach you choose is too foreign to other stake-holders in your company, you will likely have trouble selling the results.
  • A “partnership” relationship with your research supplier is more important than ever. With all the new tools available, the more a vendor knows about your business, the more empowered they are to make recommendations that are right for your situation. And the more you treat them like a fellow stakeholder, the more they will have your business interests at heart.

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