Editor’s Intro: One of my favorite essays is George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”. Terms are often used casually for political ends, and lose their original meaning. Sometimes this process is malicious in intent, hence we get the name “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” for North Korea, whose actual political system negates virtually all of those words. Terms in market research are also sometimes tossed around casually, in ways that obscure their real meaning. Nicole Maher gives us a valuable discussion of what “agile” means and doesn’t mean in market research.
Agile market research has been around for quite some time now: enough for people to take notice and question it. One of the major misconceptions of agile market research entails the definition of agile itself. Based on industry experience, we define agile as any tool, process, or methodology that is fast, flexible, and cost-effective. In the case of market research, it enables teams to quickly obtain actionable insights in order to address key business questions with confidence. Some are still hesitant to utilize it, so here are some common misconceptions of agile market research that may be holding them back.
1. It’s Just About Being Fast
While agile market research is certainly heavily focused on speed, it’s not the only objective. An agile process in itself is meant to be used iteratively in order to maintain efficiencies and account for change. As a result, agile market research is also about
- Improving: research using an agile methodology is meant to be conducted iteratively, meaning research is done at every step of the process in order to make sure a concept, or idea is constantly being improved upon and adapting to change
- Reducing errors: due to the iterative nature of agile market research, any errors or complications that do arise are caught quickly and earlier than traditional methodologies
- Affordability: since agile market research should be conducted more frequently, affordability is a key factor in making sure agile market research is possible
2. Respondents are More Difficult to Engage
Due to the fact that agile market research is meant to be conducted in an expedited time frame, respondents are recruited more quickly and participate in shorter studies. This leads some market researchers to believe respondents will be more difficult to engage, however, the clear and concise nature of agile studies can often benefit the ability to keep respondents focused. Additionally, some of the tactics we use to keep respondents engaged include
- Projective techniques and timing parameters, transitional language, etc.
- Strategic panel recruitment and personalization of studies
- Technology like mobile platforms and a user-friendly interface to our online platform
3. Agile Research is Better for Quantitative Needs
In the past, it was a known fact that in most cases quantitative research could be done in half the time of qualitative research. This is in part due to the rigorous process of analyzing lengthy open-ended and verbal answers. With the online nature of agile market research, however, we’ve found new means for approaching qual research. Technology that automatically generates organized transcripts, and tools like video response and text analytics, means the analysis of qualitative research is just as fast as quantitative. Combined with the fact that some platforms allow you to see responses in real-time, means you don’t even have to wait to start getting answers.
4. It’s Not Full Service
Full-service research typically encompasses all steps of a research process and a variety of research methodologies. The way we conduct agile market research is no different. The process encompasses all aspects of traditional market research from project scoping, to questionnaire design, programming, implementation, execution of fielding, and data analysis and reporting. Often times because multiple projects or phases are being run with agile market research, conversations about next steps and presentation of findings is also taking place.
Agile market research, while approaching traditional methodologies in a new way, still provides the benefit of variety and flexibility depending on objectives. Outside of typical quantitative studies, agile market research can execute on qualitative or custom research methodologies as well:
- Exploratory studies
- In home usage tests
- Shopper studies
- Competitive analysis
- Feature prioritization
- Product line optimizations
5. Data Quality Declines the Faster the Research
This can ring true in many cases, because as you move more quickly, mistakes are more likely to happen. But an important aspect of agile market research is to prevent mistakes from happening—so how does that work? Through these three of agile market research:
- Prioritization: accurately prioritizing what is most important to the research objectives avoids incorporating unnecessary work that could cause errors to other parts of a project
- Process: standardized processes help streamline the steps involved in any agile process and make it easier to avoid and catch errors
- Panels: expert panels who can recruit and maintain the quality of respondents at faster speeds means data quality is sustainable
Agile market research is meant to provide a fast, affordable, and quality solution without sacrificing the benefits of traditional methodologies. While this approach may not make sense for every situation, don’t let these misconceptions hold you back from the advantages of incorporating agile market research into your toolkit.