I spent over 10 years on the client side of Market Research including several as a client of Vision Critical. Several companies did very well for themselves prior to even having Market Research departments, and one company was very proud of the fact that for its first 40 years, all decisions were made through a combination of experience and gut feelings.
We all know times have changed and market research, though late to the game in some industries, is an integral part of many organizations. However, even in organizations where market research is a driving force for Insights and Voice of the Consumer, there are still some who view Market Research as a cost versus an investment. The truth is that Market Research in many forms, such as insights communities, allows brands to have fantastic interactions with their core customers.
I can write for days on the topic, but I asked one of our clients to speak to the issue.
This anecdote comes our way from Sue Thompson, Director of Research at ACCO Brands:
"I've sometimes had to stress the value of research to various internal audiences who simply wanted to go by 'gut feeling'. When we have these conversations, I'll usually tell a story about how in a prior life, a Brand Manager launched a product and it didn't meet expectations. I was then called in to do research as to why, and the end result was 'the demand wasn't there'. The research cost roughly $100,000 between focus groups and quantitative work. If we had done $30,000 of research on the front-end, we could have avoided even bringing the product to market, but nobody wanted to spend the money. So, instead of us spending $30,000 on the front end to decide not to move forward, we spent $100,000 plus the cost of creating a new product that didn't meet any real demand. In a nutshell, that's the value of research in my eyes."
"Once you can show value to your internal groups in a fashion like this they tend to be more ready to buy into the research, and see it as an investment instead of a cost. It's then my job to find the best return on that research investment. We always look for new and innovative ways to bring the research we do to the next level, and we've found that several of Vision Critical's tools, including visual questions, make the research more engaging and actually result in better data because respondents are really thinking before they respond. While this methodology is effective with adults, it works particularly well with kids too which is a very important market to us."
The CMO of one of my prior companies used to say "research is like a light post—it's for illumination and not support." When the true value of research is realized, organizations can continue to see the value in research done properly.
Hopefully this post can be a source for researchers facing the cost/value challenge and you can share it with your internal audiences.