The chatter about DIY research and listening platforms driving traditional market research to obsolescence is enough to give any Market Research professional pause for thought. Management teams can point to cost savings by empowering different departments to conduct their own “research.” While this debate is very interesting, and one that could go on for hours, the important piece that shouldn’t be lost in the debate is that the research still needs to happen. Case in point: Summer’s Eve.
In case you missed it, women (and men) everywhere have been heatedly debating a Summer’s Eve ad placed in the October 2010 issue of Women’s Day. I actually received the issue this weekend and when I stumbled across the ad, I did a double take. Even without my background in media research and gender studies, my inner alarm was ringing. Was this ad serious? Evidently I was not the only one who noticed because the blogosphere and Twitter were all a-flutter with other individuals who took notice as well. (Blogs from BlogHer.com to Salon.com to AdWeek.com above all had coverage. One blog even had more than 900 comments.) After I got over the initial shock of the ad, I asked myself, “Did they do any ad testing?”
As mentioned in some earlier posts, in the past quarters, I have been looking into the role that Market Research professionals play (and can play) with regard to information management. I’ve had many enlightening conversations about this topic with both vendors and client-side market researchers.
Technology developments result in more and more information becoming available internally, and at different parts of the organization. Just think about all the data an average company collects or buys — media measurement data, advertising awareness, advertising spend, retail data, sales data, competitive intelligence, Web-tracking data (from listening tools), Web site tracking, marketing data (e.g., Nielsen Claritas), customer satisfaction surveys, brand trackers, and other primary research data, to name just a few. One vendor estimated that the average research department handles around 50 different research sources!
When I spoke with vendors about their relationship with clients, each and every one of them was looking for ways to increase the level of engagement. For one thing, they are working on best-in-class reporting tools to make it easier for clients to process their data and make it visually more interesting — and hopefully easier to use. However, not many vendors think further than their own set of data. When questioned, they mention that their systems don’t allow for third-party data. Yes, it’s possible to link to internal CRM systems, but that’s about as far as things go.