One of the key themes I saw popping up in 2009 was the need for market researchers to communicate insights instead of information (or even worse: data). I've been at a number of events where this was discussed and I followed multiple discussions in market research groups like for example Next Generation Market Research (NGMR) on LinkedIn. Personally I added to this discussion by publishing a report called The Marketing Of Market Research - Successful Communication Builds Influence.
The general consensus is that market researchers should stay away from elaborating on the research methodology and presenting research results with many data heavy slides and graphics. Instead, they should act more like consultants: produce a presentation that reads like an executive summary (maximum 20 slides or so) and starts with the recommendations. The presentation should show the key insights gained from the project, cover how these results tie back to business objectives, include alternative scenarios and advice on possible next steps.
However, another consensus from the conversations is that not all market researchers are equally well equipped to deliver such a presentation, where they're asked to translate data into insights, come up with action items, and tell a story. Most participants in the discussions agreed with the statement that the majority of market researchers still feels most comfortable when they present research outcomes (aka numbers).
By now, most of you know my love for infographics. A colleague recently pointed me to this great tool of the world bank: The World Bank Data Visualizer.
It has it all: data for 209 different countries, trending, and customizable axes. This is a great tool for everyone who's doing global research and wants to know more about the countries researched, and how they relate to each other.
Recently I was asked by Research Magazine to contribute to an article about market research in 2010. The caveat: I was only allowed ONE word to describe what I saw as the most important change, trend or force affecting market research in 2010.
In hindsight, 2009 marked a turning point for the market research industry, when technology and innovation became part of the ongoing discussion on how to move the industry forward while balancing the realities of a business world in a recession.
A couple of weeks ago I published a post called 'The Future Of Research: Building A 3-Dimensional View Of The Customer'. The summary of my post was that consumers connect with companies through different channels and leave their feedback about the company in different places. They expect companies to understand that and they don't want to be asked about things they already shared.
In the past year I've spend quite some time looking into innovative research methodologies. One methodology that really has won over my heart is mobile research1 (see my report The challenges and opportunities of mobile research for full details). The anytime anywhere aspect of the mobile phone, combined with people's emotional attachment to it, makes it an ideal device for people to share their thoughts and opinions in a research context.
At the end of October I hosted a Consumer Market Research Track Session at the Forrester Consumer Forum in Chicago, and one of the speakers was Gian Fulgoni, CEO from Comscore.
For years, a debate has raged in the online space about the merits of panel-centric versus site-centric measurement, and with companies now trying to get a grip on the behavior of consumers across multiple channels, measurement complexity will only increase. Gian showed a slide that nicely summarizes the debate between site measurement (Web analytics) and audience measurement (panel based):
Recently I did some interviews with consumer market researchers to better understand what’s on their minds. One of the issues that kept coming up in the conversations was around the lack of influence on the follow-up on research results. One person summed it up quite nicely: “We’ve done this great project, got valuable insights, delivered the results, discussed conclusions and possible actions, got lots of praise and then … nothing happens”. It was the biggest frustration across all researchers I've talked to: how can you make people act upon the research results?