By Jeff Resnick
Let’s begin this installment of Transform with a series of questions.
- Have you ever found yourself in a situation where there is research you would like to implement, but you don’t have the budget to do so?
- Do you believe that the issues you would like to explore further are relevant to others in your industry?
- If you were able to spend less money on the execution of research, would you spend more on the generation of market insights?
- Do you agree that competitive advantage has less to do with the market information you collect and more to do with how you shape the information into meaningful business implications?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to explore a platform that its creators believe will be a catalyst for an eruptive flow of market research.
What is it? Collaborata is the brainchild of Peter Zollo and his son Jimmy. As is true with most great ideas, the concept is fairly simple – sharing the cost of research allows you to do more of it. Collaborata provides a platform that enables the co-funding of market research. The platform is essentially our industry’s version of Kickstarter for launching research on topics you always felt were important but could never fund.
How did Collaborata get started? The concept started with a call from one of Peter’s clients who asked him for advice on the design of a research project. Further discussion led to the realization that the client did not have the funds to do the research on their own. The client then asked a simple question – “Do you know anyone else who might want to do the same research?” With this simple question, the concept was born.
What makes Collaborata unique? An obvious question is what makes this different from traditional syndicated research? First and foremost is the nature of collaboration. Think multiple interactive conversations among all participants embedded within a co-creation environment. Second, is a rating system that will provide an overall quality indicator of the provider that executed the research program.
Is it disruptive? Peter Zollo firmly believes Collaborata is accretive to the industry, not disruptive of it. When challenged, he pointed out the platform could easily be leveraged by research suppliers to generate more business. However, there is no doubt the platform represents an evolution of the traditional syndicated study and may be a disruptive force to that segment of our industry.
Are there challenges? Without a doubt. Giving birth to a new concept is never easy. We discussed a number of the challenges Collaborata is currently addressing including:
- Creating a mindset of co-generating research programs. A significant hurdle is the belief among some that sharing information will hinder competitive advantage. In discussions with early users, however, the prevailing wisdom is that competitive advantage lies not within the data itself but rather what you do with the data – i.e. the translation into insight and strategy.
- Designing a platform for a new generation of market research buyer. Who are the biggest participants in the sharing economy today? Millennials. Active purchasers of market research increasingly fall into the millennial age range. They are comfortable leveraging the benefits of a sharing economy. That said, no platform is perfect on launch and Collaborata will be the first to tell you they are continually improving the platform based on feedback from users.
- Generating traffic. Driving traffic to the site is a major focus of Collaborata. Traffic has grown by at least 20% each week it has been live. In addition to a marketing campaign to raise general awareness and educate (as Collaborata is truly a new concept for market research), Collaborata promotes all posted projects individually through Linkedin and Twitter. Collaborata has been designed to incentivize users to invite others to the site, so as to motivate organic growth. However, to grow traffic more systematically and more quickly, Collaborata is currently building a sales team that will both be focused on accelerating the funding of projects on the site and to help socialize Collaborata within various corporate organizations.
- Ensuring quality. A system is embedded within the platform that allows participants to rate the firm responsible for executing the research. Much like a great Uber driver will receive a 5-star rating that is helpful in attracting riders, so will a research firm. In theory, firms rated highly will be called upon more frequently to execute research – growing their business.
- Gaining trust. Trust is required for any collaborative effort to work. The bet is that as collaborators begin to reap the benefit of mutually shared research efforts, trust will increase and collaboration will accelerate.
Is it working? The firm is approaching the two-month anniversary of its launch. To date, fifteen projects are seeking funding. If funded, the total value of the projects will exceed $2,500,000. Collaborata is ahead of its targets on the supplier side: already more than 100 research providers have registered on the platform, representing a wide range of capabilities, areas of expertise, geography, and size. Interestingly, while Collaborata was originally envisioned as a tool for small to medium size business market, adoption is actually more rapid among the Fortune 500.
Tips for others embarking on the launch of a new service
- A tip not so surprising from a researcher: Do your research first – and lots of it. Collaborata consulted with a full range of clients, including the likes of Coca-Cola, Kraft, Kellogg’s, Wrigley, and the NBA, not only on validating its concept, but also helping shape the platform itself.
- Realize that, even if you’ve done your research, you’re going to have to pivot. It could be about your product/market fit, it could be your message, well – it could be lots of things.
- The market research industry is rapidly changing. Everybody’s rethinking everything, especially within a zero-based budgeting environment and given new technologies that offer all kinds of lower-cost solutions. So, Peter Zollo advises that if you’re thinking about a new offering within this industry, you need to get a good sense not of where we are today, but where we’re heading tomorrow.
Best of luck to Collaborata.
Collaborata, the Market-Research Marketplace, crowdfunds market research, enabling brands to share project ideas and costs. Leveraging the sharing economy, the platform showcases the smartest multi-client studies, all at a 90% savings.