There's Still a Place for Traditional Marketing Research

With All the Changes We've Been Covering, We Want to Assure You - There's Still A Place for Traditional, Custom Marketing Research.

We have been talking quite a bit recently about a shift in the market research world to a quick-hit, singular focus research paradigm (Insight Streamer was born from this), and away from a long-form traditional format. Like most research companies, we have made our living conducting these larger studies for the past 15+ years. We are, along with our clients, adapting to this new paradigm, born out of a need to be more agile and more cost effective. The reality, however, is that quick-hit research is not for every company and not for every need.


“Blue Sky” Research is Rarely Quick-Hit Research

There are times when even the companies that are closely associated with an industry (Intel, Starbucks, etc.) hit a plateau and are unsure of where to go next.

We recently conducted research for a life sciences company that has been in the industry for more than 60 years, and has a very healthy customer profile. They are very well respected, and have a huge catalog of instruments, devices, and consumable products. In one area of the industry, however, there has not been a lot of new technology or advancements in the past several decades and they wanted to know how to make an impact on the industry for the future. They know the industry, but they needed to hear from potential customers what was missing and what would make a difference to them. We designed a study that included telephone interviews to gather in-depth data (issues, challenges, what is missing, etc.) and followed up with a quantitative survey to validate what we learned with a larger audience. In the end, this study required a complex methodology that allowed for respondents to think freely, and to ask enough detailed questions to fully understand what would drive future technology. A quick hit study would not have been sufficient to learn what we learned (and we learned a lot).

When your research goals are more broadly scoped, it’s likely that traditional custom marketing research will still be the best fit to serve your research needs.


Complex Concepts Sometimes Require Complex Studies

Concept tests can be conducted effectively in a quick hit-survey, but there are limits. If you are testing an upgrade, an alternative to a well-known product, or something that can be easily assimilated by your target audience, quick hit research will work. If, however, the concept is a more complex offering then it may require a longer study to properly treat the concept’s features.

For example, we recently conducted a study in the dental industry that involved a composite material that dentists use during direct restorations of cavities. The product itself is not complex (it’s like a paste), but the features that are important to dentists and built into the product require a full description and an array of questions that need to be asked to get an accurate picture of purchase likelihood. The shear amount of data needed to understand which features drive purchase make it nearly impossible to be handled in a quick-hit exercise. There are many other examples as well, especially among professional audiences (dental, medical, highly technical, etc.)


Certain Methodologies May Need a Longer Study

Although most methodologies can be handled in quick hit surveys, some just require a more thorough treatment. I’ve listed some examples here; this list is far from exhaustive:

  • Full Satisfaction and Loyalty Studies: I’m not talking about the 2-minute NPS survey that has grown in popularity. The limitation of NPS is that it does not tell you why customers will or won’t recommend you. For B2B audiences especially, it’s important to know specifically what is driving satisfaction and loyalty among their touchpoints with your company. We create a composite loyalty index, correlate it with these touchpoints, and create an Importance-Performance Map that shows you exactly what is driving loyalty and what needs to be worked on first to make an impact. An exercise such as this requires a more in-depth treatment of your business processes than a quick hit survey can provide.
  • Trade-Off Analysis: Sometimes the best way to understand what features or feature sets will drive the maximum ROI is to conduct a tradeoff analysis such as conjoint. Actionable uses Adaptive Choice-Based Conjoint (ACBC) for studies like this in most cases. Although the whole survey can be the ACBC exercise, which would technically be a quick hit survey, it is usually most instructive to test the individual features before the conjoint and to test a static concept after the conjoint to give additional color to the adoption profile. This is a longer survey that yields quite a bit of detail.
  • Full-Scale Segmentation: A quick segmentation that focuses on particular aspects of a customer’s demographics, psychographics, or behaviors is certainly a possible candidate for quick-hit research. In order to fully understand the makeup of a group of customers, however, you will need to include all three types of questions (demos, psychos, behaviors) in addition to other questions that help understand actual purchase intent. From there we can perform a data reduction technique to group and characterize customer groups that can be used in sales and marketing efforts. This level of detail may not be necessary for all studies, but they can yield a tremendous amount of useful data.


What's Right For You?

While there are likely more examples of studies which wouldn’t be the best for quick-hit research, this list covers our initial concerns. Quick-hit research is the wave of the future (very near future), but there will always be a place for traditional, custom marketing research. We will continue conducting traditional custom research to meet the individual needs of our clients. Necessary for many reasons, the require proper care to give the best return on your research dollars. Whether your latest project will be more appropriate for quick-hit research or traditional custom marketing research, Actionable Research is ready to assist you. Contact us today to talk through your project specifics and find out which service may better suit your needs.

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