Making Market Research an Ongoing Dialogue, Not a Project

market researchCompanies turn to custom market research because they need specific answers in order to make critical business decisions. The problem is the way we’ve been forced to think about market research from the lens of a project, in large part, due to the way this research is and has been executed.  

By definition, market research projects are episodic in nature, rigid in question format, and take weeks and months to execute so as to deliver the insights they’re framed to address. Internal and external complexities exist to commission, source, and complete market research. Buyers often refer to the process as exhausting and expensive, and respondents find the survey length tedious and difficult to schedule during a busy day. 

The industry has interestingly embraced this laborious process, despite those not-infrequent situations when a sudden business situation demanded market information — and sadly, the team had no way to obtain it. Furthermore, these projects become burdened with many other inquiries — for example, when other departments learn there’s a research effort being commissioned, suddenly everyone needs something for marketing, projections, potential merger & acquisition explorations, and competitive events among many topics that require informed decision making.

With many business decisions — from M&A to ad testing — waiting weeks isn’t an option anymore.

In a hyper-competitive market, we can, and must, do more.

It’s time we start outside the project — and pivot everything we do toward a more timely back and forth on answers — creating a dialogue.

Technology has enabled this on-demand immediacy in other industries — simplifying and automating what was a highly manual and complicated process. It’s starting to do the same for market research. 

  • Blazingly fast algorithms that deliver super-fast, super-meaningful results that the MR-end user can design on their own, if desired, at a reasonable cost.
  • Mobility. With more Google searches taking place on mobile devices than laptops, and smartphone usage increasing 394% in the past four years, it’s imperative not only to support respondents’ dialogues on mobile devices, but to also optimize the entire process for mobility and the mobile platform. That means shorter surveys appropriate for doing outside the office in small moments of “found time” and a clean user interface appropriate for viewing on a smaller screen.
  • SaaS and Cloud. Software as a Service (SaaS) models have become more mainstream packaged software in IT infrastructure, yet cloud-based deployment of market research is only recently emerging. Adopting the SaaS based model in market research allows one to not only buy software, but also “Insights as a Service,” removing the friction from the historically cumbersome market research process.
  • Online “crowds” that are prescreened and verified both personally and professionally enables you to pre-target to an ideal demographic before users launch a survey. By meeting professionals where they congregate — online and on their mobile devices — it’s possible to reach them 24/7 in a time-efficient format.

These technology advances enable a genuine back and forth with audiences, so researchers get feedback super-fast, and build it right into the decision at hand. Key features include:

  • Targeting respondents with extreme precision. In some sectors such as life sciences, the requirements for methodological rigor — such as peer reviewed medical studies or government-mandated reporting — are high. Online communities or “crowds” greatly simplify access to validated, targeted respondents so teams can get answers to the issues of the moment quickly, answers that inform decision-making vs.  going with their gut reaction and hoping for the best.
  • Appropriate questionnaire design to meet objectives. Forgot to ask something in your last survey? No problem. Send a follow-up to your desired respondents in the moment, and get the answers you need now. Wonder if the latest nuances in the regulatory environment impact the market’s sentiment from a few days ago? Ask the same respondents.
  • Data to determine next steps. Many decisions need to be made quickly following major market events, a new competitive entrant into the space, product planning sessions, and so many other trigger points. Waiting on further information before you can take important actions just doesn’t work any longer. When organizations can move from defining the issue, to refining a course of action in real time, they let the data better lead the business.

When you remove the friction in traditional market research, you free it to become the dialogue that it really is and enable decision-making in a way that’s faster, easier, and more cost-effective. 

Market research should not be something organizations do once a year or once a quarter. It should be an ongoing activity that organizations do whenever questions occur, because this information is pushed through on a consistent basis — so that companies can make better-informed business decisions and run more successful businesses. 

Better insights like this mean more agility. And the more agile always have an edge.

Interested to learn more? Check out's free eBook How to Succeed Using Market Research.

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Editor's Note

This post was written by Diane Hayes, Ph.D., president and co-founder of InCrowd, an on-demand market intelligence solution for the life sciences.

Topics: Market Research Strategy Custom Market Research