Another Useless Article on How to Conduct Market Research in a Recession

May 21, 2009
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[Rant Warning]

A BusinessWeek article very originally [sarcasm] entitled “Using Market Research in a Recession” by Harvard’s John Quelch published this Tuesday, outlines seven steps for CMOs who want to minimize the impact of reduced consumer spending. It seems very popular on Twitter and is now also being discussed in the LinkedIn group I moderate called Next Gen Market Research. You can read the article HERE if you have some time to waste.

The article leads me to ask, what do professors know about the business of market research? Almost NONE of them have any real world experience. There’s only so much knowledge you can accumulate from explicit sources.

That said, especially when it comes to segmentation, I think that’s an area I agree needs to be revisited by many, and it is not happening. Though, it’s not clear to me that he is suggesting this, i.e. strategic segmentation first.

As for the comment about urging trusted partners to explore “synergies” to save on costs. I think “Synergies” is a cute buzz word among larger firms, but I’ve never seen this leveraged in any meaningful way. They have a difficult enough time identifying and doing anything in this area internally for

[Rant Warning]

A BusinessWeek article very originally [sarcasm] entitled “Using Market Research in a Recession” by Harvard’s John Quelch published this Tuesday, outlines seven steps for CMOs who want to minimize the impact of reduced consumer spending. It seems very popular on Twitter and is now also being discussed in the LinkedIn group I moderate called Next Gen Market Research. You can read the article HERE if you have some time to waste.

The article leads me to ask, what do professors know about the business of market research? Almost NONE of them have any real world experience. There’s only so much knowledge you can accumulate from explicit sources.

That said, especially when it comes to segmentation, I think that’s an area I agree needs to be revisited by many, and it is not happening. Though, it’s not clear to me that he is suggesting this, i.e. strategic segmentation first.

As for the comment about urging trusted partners to explore “synergies” to save on costs. I think “Synergies” is a cute buzz word among larger firms, but I’ve never seen this leveraged in any meaningful way. They have a difficult enough time identifying and doing anything in this area internally for strategic purposes. To assume it could happen on a project/client basis in any meaningful way is naive. Instead, a sure fire way to cut cost is to open things up for competitive bidding, in which case the incumbent “trusted partner” usually loses.

As for the tip to “seize opportunities overseas”, I’m not sure where he’s going with this. Any meaningful research in emerging markets would probably be given to research suppliers in the first world markets to manage, so there wouldn’t be any “research cost savings”. And I’m not going to get started on the inefficiencies and shortsightedness of off-shoring market research (I could go on forever). As for business opportunities overseas, it depends on the product/market, but in any case, the US market is likely to recover before other markets globally.

The “Online Research” part… Well, if you’re not already utilizing online research, God help you! As for truly exploring and leveraging new research opportunities online, that requires a new way of thinking about methodology, and so I think his comment about ” an enthusiastic online brand community may not represent all users” is like apples and oranges. They’re both good for you, but they don’t grow on the same tree. You need to look at the end result, not get stuck on some methodological concern that was developed before the internet existed.

It’s interesting what can get published. I suppose it helps to have the “Harvard” brand name. But I doubt this will be seen as useful by the CMO’s it seems to have been intended for. As one of the well respected members of the NGMR group said, “A Harvard Business School professor who recommends Survey Monkey for a business… Puhleeze”

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