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Knowledge through market research can give a competitive edge

SEPTEMBER 12, 2011 – The internet is changing the way people find and consume information, and many advertisers have turned to the channel as a means for not only promoting their messages, but also conducting online market research to find out what consumers want in the first place.

Marketing Week conducted a survey of several industry professionals to find out how market research has helped them. Jon Pollock, Toyota’s general manager for vehicle marketing, told the source that the entire business utilizes the information gathered by the marketing communications team. He said the internet – and the online communities and research groups it facilitates – has been a key component in rapidly collecting data about the company’s markets.

“The ability to aggregate data quickly and give key insights to different parts of the business is helped hugely by online research,” Pollock said. He acknowledged that emerging technologies – such as GPS and online communities – mean Toyota needs to learn how to make the results of online market research much more valuable for targeting consumer hotspots, developing products, and designing tactical and marketing creative campaigns.

“By tracking online enquiries, search and sales patterns around product features such as satellite navigation, we will know which websites to target and what marketing activity to do around particular products,” Pollock predicted.

Axa Insurance and’s head of usability and customer insights, Stuart Booth, told the news source that having the insights from focus groups was useful as the company built out a more user-friendly online quote page for car insurance. Beccy Martin of New Look said her company also turned to social media websites to not only connect with audiences, but to get “honest and constructive feedback and insight.” New Look uses the internet to reach out to general consumers, but Martin told the website that it really optimizes its use of media and content within its closed community in order to garner “far richer” feedback.

Having the ability to share the knowledge acquired is equally important. The Chief Learning Officer reports that another way to have a competitive edge is by being able to learn and adapt faster than other businesses in your industry.

Ray Schwemmer, a co-author of the book Dynamic Collaboration: How to Share Information, Solve Problems and Increase Productivity Without Compromising Security, said in an interview with the source that lacking a system for spreading business intelligence throughout the enterprise means people will make decisions that are mis- or only partially informed.