I always remember attending my very first research agency debrief as a client many moons ago. I had just joined from agency side so it was a bit strange for me sitting at the other side of the table so to speak. After a two hour session of death by PowerPoint and to the utter dismay of the agency the head of the commercial business unit piped up – ‘So what’:
‘So what do we now do with all of this market research and data? What difference, if any, is knowing all of this information going to make to us as a business? Give me 3 key insights from all of this work.’
As the agency passed out peacefully those two simple words had a profound effect on me. You see in those days a big client debrief was all about the ‘presentation deck’ and the comprehensiveness of it – graph after graph, one stat after another – the more complex your presentation of data the better – it was almost a given and was deemed to show the client you knew your away around data and complex statistical models and that no stone had been left unturned in terms of crunching the data! Analysis by paralysis does spring to mind!
It was more about delivering the numbers and facts and figures not so much about the commercial implications of them or what the client did with it afterwards – that was up to them – the agency were simply market researchers not insight generators. The final section of the deck was invariably entitled ‘findings & conclusions & recommendations’. The terms ‘consumer insight agency or insight generators’ were not in the frame back then!
Now when I’m working with clients or mentoring start-ups I always stress the importance of ‘So what’ when it comes to undertaking market research. If you don’t know why you are doing the research or what you’re going to do with the information from it then don’t bother!
And don’t confuse Market Research with Insights – Research leads to Insights. Insights have to be generated, created and developed. A Real Insight unlocks opportunities and informs decision making. Insights are the pieces of information that have the power to deliver results.
You can do all the market research you want but if it’s not analysed, interpreted and applied correctly to define meaningful action then it will never to used to make an impact on strategic thinking and inform decision making.
There’s bucket loads of market research out there. Drawers full. There’s much less Real Insights.