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Every Marketing organization today is expected to be data-driven and evidence-based.  These organization’s understand the importance of market intelligence for creating customer value, accelerating growth and successfully competing in the market. One of Marketing’s primary jobs is to provide the rest of the company with a window into the customer and market.

This work requires market and customer data and intelligence which often results in conducting research.

Market research enables you to:

  • Ask the questions you want to ask
  • Begin with and test a hypothesis
  • Predict what might happen in the future

Consider these Factors When Establishing a Research Function

If improving your ability to retain and grow business with existing customers is important to you, then conduct research. Research in its most basic form is to inquire, to examine. There is a rigor to research.  Research begins with a question and the question helps you formulate your approach or methodology. In addition to conducting research, a number of companies are exploring adding a market research function to their organization. We’ve had a number of questions regarding what factors should be considered when assessing workload requirements.

Five key factors to consider when creating a research function

  1. Project complexity: The number and type of people you will need to staff your own research department is going to depend how complex the research projects are going to be. Secondary research projects require different skills sets than primary research efforts. Short, closed ended online web surveys that require little statistical analysis will require different skills and people than conducting in-person product validation research around the world.
  2. Create an annual research plan that focuses on gathering actionable strategic information. This may be the most important step to ensure justification for the market intelligence function. Be sure the primary research, secondary research and research subscriptions all support business objectives. Produce a quarterly report card that basically states, “As a result of the market intelligence function in the past three months we have learned X, Y and Z. Furthermore, we have been able to make A, B and C decisions with a higher degree of certainty and clarity.”
  3. Frequency of research: A couple of research projects a year will require different resources than a couple of research projects a month. If you haven’t created a research calendar, this is a good starting point. At a minimum the calendar should identify the research topic, timing, methodology, participant profile, and purpose.
  4. Project alignment: Market research is frequently aligned by brand and the staff allocations for each brand are based on the product’s lifecycle and category. The number of brands and markets and the number of products and complexity of these products in each brand will affect the staff and budget requirements. The research calendar will help you determine staff and budget requirements.
  5. Market potential: A product’s market potential can influence the number of analysts assigned to a research project. It is common for companies to have more analysts assigned to research projects related to larger brands or products with the greatest potential. It helps to have a way to evaluate each research effort.  One way to do this is to use a 2X2 grid, with one axis for business/marketing value/ impact (high to low) and one axis for effort or investment (high to low). Those research efforts in the high value/impact quadrant should be prioritized first. We often recommend tackling some of the easiest efforts first as a way to rack up some fast wins.

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Market intelligence provides valuable insights

Research plays an integral part in market intelligence.

Add in CI to go from research to market intelligence

When you combine research with competitive intelligence you create market intelligence. With market intelligence your organization can make better business decisions related to Marketing, Sales and Product strategies and tactics. Doing this well requires either tapping external experts or building the capabilities within.  The factors associated creating a research function apply to you market intelligence function, along with these additional considerations: 

  1. Strategically invest in syndicated research from at least two different firms. Some analyst firms specialize in market numbers, others in trend analysis, even others in site statistics.
  2. Build connections with the analyst firms in your industry. Warning, this is not a role for a rookie.
  3. Leverage your research capabilities. Define and conduct appropriate primary research. Collaborate with the key internal folks who will be the primary users of the research findings
  4. Partner with an outside research firm to ensure your strategic decisions are based on unbiased data
  5. Create a market intelligence library/database and document check out system. Promote the library internally. If you have an intranet portal, be sure market intelligence is accessible.
  6. Share the insights. Develop and implement a methodology for disseminating research and market intelligence internally that makes it easy for the reader to comprehend. Try sending periodic emails that summarize key findings of new research and reports.

Our roots are in data and research. Give us a call to talk about how to do this work well.  And of course, check out our work.

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