Dieser Beitrag ist von Edward Appleton:
Last week I jointly conducted a one-day Seminar on New Market Research with a pre-eminent Supplier of innovative Insights techniques.
It was a great session, with an audience of almost uniquely Clientside Researchers, and intimate enough to allow fellow Insight Managers from a range of industries to open up about the operational challenges and opportunities they face. The objective was to share views on how New MR could help accelerate the transformation process of MR from being a Data Deliverer to an Insights Consultants. A couple of articles I read during the same time frame detailing MR supplier companies‘ views on the same topic – New MR – provided a sharp contrast, and made me wonder if suppliers are in danger of losing sight of what really counts on the Clientside.
The articles in question both were from senior people in what I would describe as mainstream MR supplier companies; both were very strongly negative about traditional Market Research. Jon Puleston of GMI is reported to have taken aim at traditional brand trackers, describing them as „wasting respondents‘ time“ (as reported in Research Live by Jeffrey Henning –http://bit.ly/17mAHP9 writing on the recent Greenbook Insights Innovation Exchange in Philadelphia (http://bit.ly/165sTQg). Wow. Larry Friedman, Chief Research Officer of TNS North America, writes in the Green Book Blog (http://bit.ly/162VWkr) about how Purchase Intent is effectively useless as a KPI as it is without any predictive validity – more detail below on this. Hard punches.
Contrasing the two, the gap in focus between the Clientside and Supplier debate struck me as worryingly large: clientside the discussion was (without being able to go into details) on how to become more effective operationally, how to increase one’s internal value as an Insights Consultant. On the supplier side, we witness – and probably remember – harsh statements about what current practices don’t work methodologically.
Is the MR debate – at least on the blogosphere – in danger of losing focus on issues that really count for lots of MR clients: impact, increased effectiveness, ROI?
Is an open hostility to traditional methods potentially destructive rather than disruptive?
Are we confusing „new & different“ with „better – because demonstrably helps Client organisation be more successful“?
Here’s my take:
1. The MR Transformation Process has Way To Go.
We often forget it: New MR vs trad MR is a largely supplier-side methodological debate – no doubt one we need to have. However, it’s not the end-game – which is about increasing the impact and perceived value derived from MR.
The Boston Consulting Group published a paper in 2009 focussing on transforming MR, entitled The Consumers‘ Voice. It suggests there are 4 stages of transformation in the MR process: Stage 1 being traditional „Market Research Function“ (essentially data deliverers), Stage 4 – Nirvanah – described rather excitedly as „Strategic Foresight Practitioners„.
My sense from the Seminar was that many of us on the Clientside were likely in Stage 2 mode („Business Contribution Team„): ensuring the Consumer Voice is integrated into the business, with a mandate from Senior Executives. We have not really shifted to the next level, or are just beginning: mastering the synthesis of various data sources, working more broadly across the Corporation beyond Marketing and Sales, growing a knowledge base, with a high level of influence on Senior Executives.
What’s holding us back? No doubt there are many reasons, I’ll point to two key drivers – money and talent.
2. MR Needs to Compete Aggressively for the Right Talent.
It’s perhaps not often stated, but the salary levels offered in MR often compare less favourably with those on offer in Sales or Marketing.
MR is also often perceived as a pass-through place rather than a Career choice.
Money isn’t always a primary motivator. However, without getting into any Behavioural Economics debate, I’d say that at entry and junior level in particular, money certainly matters.
To attract and retain the brightest talent needed to accelerate the MR Transformation process, we need to address hard-nosed questions such as reward and recognition. How can we offer higher salaries?
I’d suggest that charging higher fees works best when you have access to Board Level Influencers and Decision Makers, and that moving the needle at that level comes through systematically documenting MR business impact – how MR investment has helped drive top-line sales, helped save the company money by preventing failures, helped fill the innovation pipeline.
If we do this consistently, aim to document and where viable publish MR effectiveness in a very broad range of Business Journals, raise our profile in all sorts of manners internally and externally, then we are on the right track to gaining a better reputation and justifying higher remuneration.
3. Methodological Debate needs to be both Positive and Impact-Focussed.
I was interested to read the CRO of TNS, Larry Friedman, writing on the Green Book Blog about how MR needs to embrace new ways, re-invent itself effectively. One sentence in particular stayed with me for a few days: challenging us to re-think surveys, he states parenthetically:„some “standard” metrics like purchase intent for established FMCG brands, have a zero correlation with behavior – why are we still using it?“
Wow. This from one of the major players in Research, and from a regional Chief Research Officer.
It made me wonder: how is this notion sellable to, say the CMO or the Head of Sales? Aren’t we handing weapons to people who – potentially – may not be believers in MR in the first place? How would the conveyer of this message (the MR clientside researcher) avoid suffering the fate of the proverbial Messenger – shot down? Should us Clientside Researchers have our Damascus moment and ditch Purchase Intent, cast our comparative Top Box scores of the past decade into the dustbin, and optimistically start afresh?
I confess not to having read more than synopses of Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy which is credited with the popularization of the phrase „Creative Destruction“. Nevertheless, to give it my own spin: as we look to re-energise our industry, we need to place the emphasis on the „creativity“ part, and let „destruction“ be a by-product of renewal.
Self-destuction is an unwelcome alternative, and there are plenty of other disciplines – finance, internet marketing, IT, Data Consultants – that potentially could be asked to deliver large parts of what MR is currently tasked with.
Curious, as ever, as to others‘ views.