The ability to collect data at lower cost and faster speeds than ever before in the history of marketing has not necessarily led to the delivery of greater insight. Like a trust-fund baby reaching 21 and suddenly seeing stuff to have everywhere he goes, it is tempting on both the marketing and the research sides to collect more and more information that tell you less and less about how your customer is really feeling about you , your competitors, and your category.
The next time you are faced with the opportunity to spend research dollars ask yourself just two things:
- Will the data be specific enough to inform action? Findings on the consumer at large offer little to craft into a strategy when your brand is fighting for its life in the category.
- Are the measures proven to some effect? Knowing that your rating on “broad product selection” has improved tells you nothing about how important that really is to your customer.
Perhaps our most critical job as researchers in today’s brand ecology is as translators, taking all that can be known and speaking what should be known—what must be known for brands to evolve, and to prosper. The best research functions are somewhat analogous to poetry. It takes the complex and rich world and distills it into what really matters.
For that to happen we all must break ourselves of the habit of buying, and selling, research by the pound.