The market research landscape is evolving. Customer needs are changing. As a company, we are constantly working to anticipate these shifts and deliver the right mix of platforms and services to our global customer base.
MarketResearch.com’s leadership team recently wrapped up its annual strategy meeting. Department heads from content, operations, marketing, and sales gathered from across the U.S. and Great Britain to identify key issues affecting our customers. We caught up with CEO and Founder Rob Granader to hear his thoughts on current trends and developments and where the market research industry is headed.
What issues are top of mind for the leadership team at MarketResearch.com?
The questions we’re grappling with are, “What job does our research perform,” and “What jobs do our products perform?” This framework is based on Clayton Christensen’s “jobs to be done” theory. Christensen says that what causes people to buy products is not characteristics or attributes, but problems that need solving.
The jobs our research and products perform are different for different types of users, and we’ve noticed definite changes — in terms of who is using market research, who needs it, and when they need it.
There is a bigger focus now on usefulness. These days, people don’t always have time to read a large study full of narrative. They need more graphs and charts. Too little white space in a report or page is a problem. Getting a big report is intimidating, so it’s important to think about how to make the content more accessible.
Although some users are looking to purchase individual reports and slices of reports, we’ve found that what people really want is certainty in purchasing, which is why our subscription platforms are considered the Holy Grail.
Why is industry analysis so critical for business leaders today?
People are afraid to make mistakes because they don’t know if the opportunity will exist in next year’s budget. Companies need to know what consumers are thinking, what competitors are doing, how the sands are shifting, and you can’t obtain that information quickly. You have to do the research and talk to the customers and get the answers, but many companies don’t have time for that anymore. Business leaders need to know where to go, but they are already midstream developing a product or working on a question, and they can’t be an expert in everything, so they come to us.
In some cases, market research drives people to a conclusion, and in some cases, it’s just confirmatory. Some people need research that supports where they’re already going, and sometimes people need it to open their eyes to where the market is moving and to discover trends they didn’t know about before.
The other thing market research does is help people avoid mistakes. And that is something market research doesn’t always get credit for, but it’s hugely important.
According to a GRIT study about the research industry, 25% of respondents mentioned poor market research outcomes as their biggest challenge in 2015. What’s your take?
Many new publishers that are starting up are just working off data. The narrative accompanying the data, which gets to the actionable insights, is not there because the research is not written by an analyst who knows the industry firsthand.
Let me give you a specific example. For the first time, our publisher Simba Information stopped using the word “textbook” and is now using the term “instructional materials.” To identify that fundamental change in educational publishing, you have to be in the industry, you have to go to conferences and talk to customers. You can’t just get that shift by looking at government data.
Our research specialists are also a great barometer for what’s considered quality research. Our research specialists serve as trusted advisors to help our customers find the research they need, and they won’t recommend reports that they don’t have faith in.
What do you think separates good market research from great market research?
I think that good market research is the flat data — the four corners of the report — and great market research is the ability to go beyond the report. This could include access to analysts, or the ability to ask specific survey questions, receive updates, or obtain more customized research. Great market research is more tailored and granular; it allows people to get the specific answers they want.
Once the customer has that base data, what can they do with it? How can we help them leverage it? These are things we’re really thinking about. We’re focused on building ongoing relationships with our customers. It’s more than just producing a report and moving on.
About the Author: Sarah Schmidt is a Managing Editor at MarketResearch.com, a leading provider of global market intelligence products and services.