Building a Culture of Innovation in Market Research: A User’s Guide

An overview of Focus Pointe's new eBook that highlights the way innovation is pushing the market research industry to cultivate new ideas, form new tools, and drive performance and growth.

In a face-paced, rapidly changing industry, we know we need to embrace new technology and innovation that will move our business forward – but how exactly do we go about it?

Laura Livers, Focus Pointe Global’s Chief Executive Officer, has written an eBook that presents an “in the trenches” perspective on embracing technology. With a Forward by Leonard Murphy, the 32-page eBook, Building a Culture of Innovation in Market Research: A User’s Guide, distills hard-won lessons and thought leadership from different sources into a pragmatic guide for leaders in the market research industry to build a framework for ongoing innovation in their businesses.

By way of an introduction to the publication’s content, here is an excerpt about incremental innovation:

With so much talk about innovation in the marketing research industry, it’s easy to feel like we have no choice in the matter if we want to prosper and grow. We know we must innovate, but we just don’t have the inclination to go there. Innovation takes time, effort, and money, and most of us are quite happy in our carefully maintained wheelhouses.

However, not all innovation has to be expensive, strange, and daunting. Innovation can, and most often will, come in the form of tiny incremental improvements.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines innovation as:

  1. A new idea, device, or method
  2. The act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods

By this definition, marketing research is an industry chock full of innovation, as new methods, practices, and ideas are constantly being introduced. For clarity, a nuanced definition is needed here.

Dr. Oskar Korkman, of Nokia, talks about innovation a bit differently. He defines innovation as, “The improvement of an existing practice. There are no new innovations, but rather the development of existing practice and objects. Everything is incremental.”

Disruptive innovation is rare, and tends to happen in cycles. An age of disruption happens about every 10 years, and that is what makes what is happening now particularly exciting – and scary. The pace, quality, and range of innovation are exploding, with a wide range of industries being impacted.

However, in recent years, much innovation has been incremental and driven by a convergence of convergence – tools which facilitate convergence have themselves converged to form new tools. An example is cloud computing, which resulted from the convergence of increased computing power, network bandwidth, cheap storage, and virtualization. Each era of disruptive innovation breeds a cycle of incremental innovation driven by these convergences, and although the pace may seem non-stop, the reality is that it is a fairly predictable process if you pay attention to what’s happening.

We experience incremental innovations in research all the time. Rather than worrying about maintaining norms from 30 years ago, more and more of us are worrying instead about ensuring our traditional surveys reflect this decade of survey-taking expectations. For example, ensuring that every survey question works quickly, easily, and intuitively on every device is where incremental innovations in the mobile survey space is focused.

Most importantly, we must remember that innovation is NOT the end goal. The end goal is not to choose the coolest research technology that generates the most “ooohs and aaahhhs,” but rather the one that best understands human behavior. If this means changing your strategy from asking people WHY they do something to asking people HOW they do something, or focusing not just on System 1, which is fast and intuitive, or just System 2, which is slow and deliberate, but rather embrace System 1 AND System 2 as the research objectives require, that is incremental innovation.

The eBook encompasses the many considerations market research leaders must juggle as they move toward building a culture of innovation in their companies. From determining scalability to identifying partners, Laura Livers lays out an actionable roadmap to help seed and cultivate sustainable innovation that drives growth, performance, and valuation.

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