Seven Market Research Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

on Saturday, 31 October 2015. Posted in Research

Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on market research studies to guide new offerings, understand consumer choices and evaluate marketing effectiveness. A skilled market researcher makes sure decision-makers get the most for their money.

Here some typical mistakes we see when it comes to market research. 

  1. Poor Framing: Even the best study is unhelpful if it answers the wrong question, is too focused or too general. Start with the business decision to be made before designing a study. In framing the question, make sure it’s neither too specific nor too superficial. Highly tactical research may be ignoring the opportunity to uncover larger business truths.
  2. Penny-wise: Companies are often penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to survey sample sizes. With panel costs dropping, large sample surveys are not much more costly to field and analyze than small ones, and larger samples provide greater statistical power and the opportunity to dive in and look at the data among subgroups like heavy buyers or Millennials.
  3. Too Long: Respondents tire after 10 minutes, yet the average survey is 20 minutes long. With more participants using mobile phones, surveys need to be shorter and snappier. New methods for chunking surveys, analyzing incomplete data and incorporating data from other sources makes it possible to ask fewer questions of each respondent.
  4. Stuck on Surveys: Surveys are great for finding out what people think, but they are less effective at discovering what people actually do or at getting at the ‘why’s’ of what they do. Diary panels, customer journey mapping and mobile surveys are more in the moment and better for revealing actual behavior. The technology for engaging respondents has advanced enormously, with options for on-going dialog via communities, bulletin boards, advisory panels and more. And it’s easy today to use video within the survey to ask why or even do a follow up focus group among selected survey participants.
  5. Point in Time: Some insights are only revealed over time. Collecting data regularly and using a consistent methodology is the only way to accurately identify trends or answer the question ‘why have things changed?’
  6. Inadequate Stimuli: Some companies are reluctant to put incomplete or preliminary ideas in front of respondents. However, the best way to find out what people really think is to give them things to react to. It’s easier for people to give an opinion on a specific ad, idea or for instance situation than respond to general questions about likes and dislikes.
  7. Death by PowerPoint: The era of the 150-page report that sits on a shelf and no one reads is over. A skilled researcher will bring forward the storyline, relegating the details to an appendix. Good research is typically designed to address one set of issues, yet it has multiple uses. Giving decision-makers direct access to the data is another way to ensure it gets used. At Brand Amplitude, we consider our contribution to translating the findings into actions to be as important as doing the research itself.

Here are some ways to help insure you get the most from your  market research investments.  

  • Set clear learning objectives. Prioritize “need to knows” over “nice to knows.” What actions or decisions need to be made?
  • Match the method to the questions. Do we need to understand behavior or attitudes? Do we need to understand a point in time or a trend?
  • Look beyond the survey. What other methodologies or add ons may allow deeper insights?
  • Provide stimuli for more accurate read. People sometimes don’t know what they like until they see it.
  • Don’t skimp on sample size. The cost of incenting respondents is a small fraction of the overall study cost.
  • Fully utilize the insights. What other audiences could make use of this information?

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