Maximize Your Market Research Investment in a Recession

November 26, 2008
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I wanted to write today to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and also to share some insights from a recent report I read.
Like everyone else, market researchers are being forced to cut back their budgets in this difficult economic environment. A recent white paper by Forrester Research “Ten Ways to Recession-Proof Market Research” provides some […]

 

 

 

I wanted to write today to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and also to share some insights from a recent report I read.

Like everyone else, market researchers are being forced to cut back their budgets in this difficult economic environment. A recent white paper by Forrester Research “Ten Ways to Recession-Proof Market Research” provides some useful guidelines on getting the most out of your market research budget. You can read the entire paper here.

Many of the suggestions in the report were tips I’ve shared with Anderson Analytics’ clients over the past few years. Still, from time to time, it’s good to reflect on these research basics, most of which make sense for many of our research projects regardless of economic climate.

I’m also sharing seven additional tips I personally believe are important below. I hope you find them useful.

1. Focus on Your Customers
CRM data is valuable but this value can be exponentially more powerful by merging primary data with it. Also, conducting a survey among your own customers is much cheaper than purchasing sample to include competitors’ customers. Select a vendor that is accustomed to working with both primary data as well as CRM data and can score your database so that all customers will be segmented.

2. Proprietary Panels
Think twice before building a proprietary panel. If you are going to conduct a project with the same type of sample every month (usually heavy users of your product category), proprietary panel can be an extremely powerful and cost effective tool. However, if your research projects vary greatly, it may not be worth the hidden costs of building and maintaining a panel. Discuss the pros and cons with your supplier carefully before deciding.

3. Online Even with Qualitative!
Some researchers think traditional focus groups are the only way to get good feedback on emotions. The truth is, in an online group, you get better feedback on emotions because introverts will participate. Additionally, new techniques like psychological content analysis can be used to more accurately measure and understand emotions. And, perhaps best of all, you’ll save on all that expensive and time consuming travel!

4. Use Free Data
You’ve probably already collected a massive amount of customer data through customer emails, call center logs, website suggestion boxes, or internet discussion boards. Why pay for more information? With text analytics, you can mine your customer comments and produce actionable insights – at a much lower cost.

5. Understand the Costs of Online Sample
The only guarantee to good pricing and quality is to continually seek at least 3 competitive bids for sample. If you are unwilling to do this yourself because of time constraints, think about working with a consultancy that focuses on analytics. These firms continually go through this process and generally get much better sample ROI than you will.

6. Eliminate the Monkey Surveys
With ‘Do It Yourself’ (DIY) survey software, such as Zoomerang and Survey Monkey, any monkey can now launch a survey; several of your company’s non-market research department managers are probably doing so right now. While these tools can be useful in the right hands, they are often used without consideration of sampling, survey design, and the analytical requirements necessary to answer key objectives. Help internal clients understand that bad data can lead to false assumptions and thus poor and expensive decisions.

7. Ask if Your Vendor is Secretly Off-Shoring Your Projects
Many marketing research suppliers are off-shoring several points of the research process to India and other less developed countries. Depending on your company’s policies on privacy and IP – this may be ok, but even if it is, you should ask your supplier whether or not any part of your project is being off-shored. If you are willing to have your research conducted off-shore, ask your vendor how that will reduce your costs? Ask what the difference in cost will be if no part of your project is off-shored. If your supplier does not offer you a discount for off-shoring the project, or does not offer a local option, seek a new vendor. Due to quality and IP issues, market research firms like Anderson Analytics and management consultancies like Boston Consulting Group have taken a strict 100% no-off-shoring stance.

 

I hope you find at least one of the tips above useful. If you have any other tips, or would like to discuss any of these, I’d be happy to hear from you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

– Tom

Link to original postTom H. C. Anderson – Anderson Analytics