Editor’s Note: Historically, client-side insights teams have vacillated between treating the research companies they work with as vendors, who largely just carry out client instructions, and as partners, who work shoulder to shoulder with them through all phases of research engagement, from design to implications. As Shaima Abdelmageed discusses in the article below, we still see this dynamic played out, but now with technology providers in the mix. Not making full use of the expertise of all members of the larger team can work against the success we all want to achieve for the overall business
The Market Research Journey
It’s all in the journey – the journey of your researchers as well as your respondents, they equally eat up your resources! And the root cause is your approach to market research. Usually, the research team defines the methodology and decides on what technologies to use. They pick the medium; a survey app, a web-survey, or an interview to make the respondents’ journey as good as can be. They mostly work to paint a clear picture and look for the missing colors to complete the painting. And when they bring in the technology providers, they ask them to use only one color to deliver their part!
The research team has now exhausted their time and resources to get what they think would fit – they went beyond their specialty to specify what technology to use for the job they want to be done. Their journey took them from planning to executing without testing. Without exploring what-if scenarios! They lost the possibility to look at the painting from a different angle and introduce new shades that could take the painting to the next level!
The Research and the Respondent
I am here to talk to you about what we did differently to avoid this and cater for both, the researchers’ and the respondents’ journey. By co-creating research with technology providers, we gave each other a seat at the table. We tried this out in a very traditional scenario of market research, and with the added value of co-creation, resources were optimized!
Studying complex decision making is one of the research interests of one of our clients. During which, they help their clients understand how to approach their customer. For this research, it is customary to start with a large sample and collect quantitative data to profile the respondents. This was done on a mobile survey app.
Starting with profiling questions that were used as a funnel to find the right sample for more in-depth quantitative questions, this was done in the same mobile survey app.
When the data was complete, it was time for a 101 interview, which is usually carried out in person – someone from the research team would travel to meet the panelist. This time, it was done this via 101 video calls using the same mobile survey app.
This not only saved travel expenses but also lowered the need to collect personal data and consequently reduced the privacy concerns that any of our client’s clients would have. They no longer need to collect phone numbers and home addresses – since the video call would go through the mobile survey app and nothing else is needed.
This complete journey caters to the researchers, so they don’t have to spend hours filtering samples and traveling distances, especially for small agencies. Researchers get to actually focus on analyzing the insights, which they were hired to do.
The same journey also caters for the panelists who did everything in the same app and didn’t have to share anything beyond the research questions. They were comfortable and at ease with the entire experience, which potentially could allow for reducing the incentives.
This entire journey came about when we, the technology provider and the researchers, sat around the table and included each other in the conversation. The client’s role has changed from renting service to co-creating services, and so did the role of technology providers. They are no longer the service providers, but rather the technology consultants that serve as an extension of the client’s team. Co-creating services that best suit the client’s job-to-be-done, is the core of today’s market research. and the responsibility falls on the client to make room for the tech provider and for the latter to understand their new role and act accordingly. This role change is inevitable regardless where the research team works; research agency or end-client.
The researchers, sketched the research plan and together with the technology provider, also known as, the technology consultant, they looked at the sketch and each chose the right crayons to deliver what they co-envisioned; a complete journey.
When considering role changes; research teams amongst research agencies have been more welcoming towards the change than those amongst end-clients. More often than not, the end-client research teams have focus areas and extensive experience in the research. Such extensive experience feeds a belief that external partners won’t add any value apart from the technology. So, they end up locking the old roles in and keeping the tech providers out. The scenario is different in the research agency arena, where the level of acceptance towards the new role varies a lot. The size of the organization has also played a role in the acceptance level, larger agencies are more reluctant while smaller ones are rather adaptive.