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Changing Role of Marketing Research

A couple of pertinent articles converge – HBR’s article on doing more for less for more and today’s AMA Marketing Power News Article, Surviving 2010.  Businesses in general are challenged to provide more value to more people for less money – and that captures what Market Researchers have been scrambling to deliver over the past 18 months or so. 

What makes for an effective marketing researcher has always been a constellation of attributes, but the relative value of various attributes has shifted.  As the AMA article points out, there is likely to be less emphasis on our role as stewards of historical knowledge bases, and more emphasis on our ability to provide key consumer insights very fast, very cheaply. Moreover, we are challenged to embed consumer insights more widely throughout business organizations.   That’s a tall order, but one researchers are assiduously striving to achieve. 

It’s relatively easy to achieve nimbleness/speed, and even low cost…. I think speed and low cost will become more and more “price of entry”.   The challenge is being able to provide the quality of insight and recommendation, and to embed it in the decision making process. That’s the “value” part of the equation.   

Fast cheap off target information, or worse yet fast cheap misinformation is downright dangerous. The quality of the knowledge communicated, and the ability to disperse that knowledge throughout the organization, will continue to distinguish excellent researchers.  One downside of the explosion in fast, low cost Internet research, and use of novel research methods, is that it can become difficult for the end user to judge the quality of the research/consumer insights being delivered (reliability, validity, etc.). That’s a major challenge to our field, and I think researchers and end users alike should be attuned to this issue: how confident are you of the value of the consumer insights being delivered?

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