Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The NGMR Top-5-Hot vs. Top-5-Not

Okay. I’ve been asked to offer up my opinion and tell you what I think are the top 5 hot things in Market Research and what the top 5 not so hot things are.

But those who know me already know that I find it hard to follow the rules. To be forced to come up with ten things means I’ll probably have to write about things that I’m not 100% feeling from the heart.

So I won’t.

I WILL tell you the numero uno item that popped into my mind. It’s a little thing called social media. Let’s face it. It is changing the life of market researchers.

What’s the big difference? We don’t have to gather the data via a survey or a focus group and go through the tedious task of finding those people who are qualified to be a part of a study. We don’t have to code, clean and edit questionnaires, nor process the data in a cross-tab package. We don’t have to fly around the country spending endless late nights munching M&M’s behind a one-way mirror.

We have to do something that’s perhaps one of the hardest things for any human to do. Listen. What? Yes, we have listened in the past, but this is different. It’s sitting out there, on the internet. Right now. All we need to do is reach in and grab it. And it’s so easy to do so via a number of tools, or just running searches.

It’s not quantitative. It’s not exactly qualitative either but closer to it. It’s really a third area of market research. Drawbacks? Yes, indeed. The biggest drawback is that not much is none about the folks that are chattering out there, so it’s unknown if those people are truly the audience you want to hear from. But chances are if they are talking about a specific product or service, that they have either used that product or service or have considered it.

The big advantage to this newfangled social media research thang? Timeliness!  Perhaps the second biggest advantage: cost; down down down. And yes, it’s still data collection so time is involved.

So, if that’s the big news, what’s the not? Doesn’t something have to fall by the wayside? As our society travels more and more towards becoming a paperless society (yes, we are a long way off from that for sure), some things must yield. When was the last time you conducted a survey by mailing it? Surveys went digital. While it’s terrific to be easily able to survey online, unfortunately, anyone can do it. For free. Which poses a problem of sorts to market researchers as we fight for credibility (okay, it’s always been an issue, however, now everyone can be an “instant” researcher). This is a subject that requires a separate post, so don’t even get me started.

For now, I’d like to again focus on the one HOT item that is scorching my fingertips as I type this. Social Media Research. If you’re not in, jump in and start playing. Experiment on your own and run searches in Twitter and Facebook. Pick a timely subject (no, skip Charlie Sheen). See what you get! Eye popping, great information, up to the minute, honest, brutal at times, mostly useful feedback….and actionable.

Will “traditional” market research go away. No. Some clients will require something more concrete. Others will be more than pleased when you deliver a combination of both. Think about surprising your client with social media research, enhancing and perhaps further substantiating what traditional market research provides.

Evolution in Market Research is exciting…and good! And excuse me for not listing 10 items. I'm exhausted after writing about this one.

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