Do we really NEED Market Researchers?

Is it a question, statement or an argument?

FiredWell I guess it is a bit of all here. From the past few days it has been a recurring thought in my mind – the growing redundancy of Market Researchers. Now what do I mean by it all? Let me quickly come to the point and rephrase the question – with growing technical advancement in the survey research tools – today even non-researchers can quickly and effectively field studies – so do I really need to hire a costly researcher who will serve out average inferences that are of no use to me?? Yes I agree that there will always be need for the ‘brainy’ high end research but are clients getting sick of the mediocrity submitted in the name of research findings? Let us all find out in this article!

I will first divide type of research requirements into 3 parts:

1- High end research – as already mentioned above will exist in the future too but probably not more than 2%-3% market researchers are qualified enough for it.

2- Quick research – where clients needs to make very fast decisions and tools like Survey Monkey and a online data collection vendor will serve the purpose.

3- Medium research – it is in between the above 2 types of research activities where proper planning and effective execution is required.

As you can guess most of the researchers are currently serving the 3rd type of research activities.

Now if we can broadly classify a research project it will comprise of 3 parts:

Part 1- Designing the questionnaire

Part 2 – Data collection

Part 3 – Analysis of the data

The Part 2 is taken care of by the data collection companies – therefore a researcher role is more of a passive manager of the activity.

The Part 3 can be to a certain extent covered by the state of the art research tools which can be fed raw data and a reasonably accurate information and subsequent inferences can be deduced.

For the Part 1 as we all know most of the researchers take help of the standard historical questionnaires available with minor customizations to suit the project requirements.

Now the MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION – as you can see in an activity where a researcher role can be made redundant – why does the client needs to shelve out a heavy amount to get work done???

Before you take out your pitch forks and put me on fire – let me ask you something:

Why is it that a substantially growing number of clients are complaining about the lack of ‘insights’ that they get from the research projects??

I do not claim that a market researcher is not capable of providing valuable information to the customer – on the contrary they are the only person who can actually do it!!

But market researchers now a days have become more of a data collection agents with implementing few tweaks to make the data look like an inference.

A researcher can CRIB about the lack of budget leverage but it is also a common sense that you get paid for what you serve  and not what you THINK should be paid for.

Let  me ask you a simple question – what if an online data collection company collaborates with research tools manufacturers and make it damn easy for a novice to conduct research project??  What will happen to the NEED of the market researchers for the clients??

This is not a fiction tale but a reality that will come very soon.

Let me elaborate:

Someone can create a tool/platform that will make researchers nearly redundant.

When you login to this platform you can select the type of study you want to conduct or the broad objective you want to achieve.

The platform thereby checks in the database as to the best questions and their sequence that suits the purpose.

The client just drags and drops the questions into a form and the questionnaire is designed. This platform will be smart enough to suggest changes/modifications that maybe required.

Now this platform is connected with multiple data collection vendors who will be informed about the study as soon as the client hits the PUBLISH button.

After the data is collected in real time the platform will provide customized reports to the clients based on which they can take informed decisions.

Some such platforms are available in the market although they need more customization but such an intelligent platform is very much possible.

I believe that for long market researchers have taken clients for granted but they don’t realize that TECHNOLOGY can wipe out their jobs!

Today is the right time to think hard as to how market researchers can concentrate more on analysis and less on data collection aspect of the research projects.

Akshay Kanyal

Akshay Kanyal

Akshay Kanyal writes survey research reviews on his popular blog Online MR. He’s an avid blogger, brand consultant and a content marketing expert, helping business owners to craft content that sells.

He provides content marketing advice to start-ups and innovation driven companies. He can be contacted at editor@onlinemr.com

You can also connect with him on LinkedIn ; Facebook ; Twitter

Comments

  1. Very interesting read! We are all aware that Market Research is changing, which means we need to change too. When setting up my company I did not go down the traditional Market Research Company route for this very reason – and concentrated on Customer Insight. Also, we focus on empowering businesses to put systems in place in-house and up-skill existing staff to carry out the processes that can help them utilise their customer data. However, I still think there is a lack of experience and knowledge in basics of research for the Market Researcher to be completely redundant just yet! Thanks again for a thought provoking article,

  2. There is always the question of bias when research is done by the product managers rather than an “independent” researcher, particularly in new product development. I have also met many an engineer (or even pm) “married” to a particular idea, but hard and factual market research data proves that the expected market doesn’t exist or at may be quite different than hoped. For this and other reasons, I maintain that market researchers (especially those that have subject matter expertise in a particular market space) are critical. Eliminating bias is key.

  3. Broadly you are right. It makes sense to have research integrated in with marketing. And not a separate bolt on. However having seen marketers who run their own onine communities present them as casestudies I can tell you that the way in which respondents are treated falls far short of what is considered acceptable in market research. A difficult customer sounding off in a public forum is given short shrift compared with a difficult respondent. If clients can collect all the data themselves and customers are willing to give it to them then why not?

    The other reason for having research suppliers until now has been the inability of client organisations to run viable ad hoc studies – there often isn’t the capacity. So suppliers job is to deliver the project and and intervention which galvanises the organisation in a way that often an internal project won’t.

    Are these two exceptions enough to save market research? Probably not. Inertia is the biggest force preserving suppliers. But the writing IS on the wall.