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Researchers Should Do More Market Research

Join us in going back to the basics of market research. Gain the skills you need to solidify a collaborative relationship with your clients.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. Jan Zwang will be speaking at IIeX Europe 2020 in Amsterdam, Feb. 25-26. If you liked this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX Europe. Click here to learn more. 

We’ve all been there, the sales pitch starts with full enthusiasm and drive. The story is great, but on the “why” there is a long silence. Do innovations = value-adding products?  Many agencies know all about their own product but have no clue that their competition is offering. If they do then only of the “classic” tools. On innovations, they seem to design it in a “bubble”. Some didn’t even “Google” it so to see what it’s is about before talking to a customer. 

In my work as an insight manager in a large telecom organization, I have encountered this more than once. To stay on top of your field you should never think you know it all and stay always open to new techniques, concepts, and agencies.  Therefore, I give everyone a chance to tell their story to us, but you would be surprised how often I turn my PC screen to show their “innovative” product already in place for 2 years. 


Where our organization does many co-creation sessions with customers I would like to see the stats on all IIeX insight professionals that have been in a co-creation session with an agency/customers. Customer-centric is not using the “standard” questionnaire where you as a customer get the question “What are your biggest challenges?” Well to all agencies it is not about discovering “problems” but it is all about finding “solutions”.  The real value is not a “lower price” but a great ROI on the investment in research. 

In our market, we know every nuts & bolts of competition propositions as that is our core business.  Moreover, it is a lot to ask to expect from the agencies that work for us that they know their business to that level as well.  This explains why you see innovations in research coming from start-ups as they focus on the “solution” and not on the “problem” of declining revenue for their “classic” tools.

What could be the solution? Here I would like to refer to an article from Forrester; What Needs To Happen In Market Research in 2013 by Reineke Reitsma.  What did she write? 

1. Market insights need to invest in knowledge, technology, and skills

Traditional primary and secondary (survey-based) research isn’t enough to serve stakeholders in today’s fast-paced world. 

2. Research vendors have to show their worth

 Vendors need to communicate their unique proposition, invest in new products, or change their focus to stay relevant in the years ahead.

3. Future market insights solutions have to connect the dots

 Market insights professionals can no longer rely on a single data source to support their company’s business decisions. 

Remember this was in 2013, when “Big data” and “Design thinking” for a lot of people in this industry were beyond the horizon.  Her quote is still relevant “Let’s be frank: Market insights professionals are, in general, slow to adapt, and training and education on next-generation research also lag behind.”

As the market research industry should be the leaders in a transformation. 

Of course, there are exceptions, of agency and industry side who do good work. Events like IIeX Europe 2020 are important to share & drive innovations in our industry.  I am a true believer that is a shared responsibility of customers & agency together. In our organization, every year we do a pilot with a Start-Up, invest in people of color, etc. In addition, every year we organize a “supplier day” for the agencies we work with where we explain the strategic goals for the coming year told by Executive on the board. This shows them our challenges, so they know where they can help with solutions.

 If we look forward to 2020, let us take the steps together, to have real value-adding innovations. I hope that we going to see more focus on the ROI of research in 2020. Use your own research techniques to come up with those new concepts & proposals. And companies need to invest those in a structural way. Next time start to “Google” it before you walk into a customer’s office. 

 If we work together, we can deliver on our key role to guide, lead and inspire our organizations into a bright future for the market research industry.

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Jan Zwang

Jan Zwang

Sr. Market Manager & Customer Insights, VodafoneZiggo