A new study from The Boston Consulting Group confirms what many on the agency or consultancy side already suspect – that many large organizations aren’t fully capitalizing on the potential of marketing research. The study, titled “The Consumer’s Voice – Can Your Company Hear It?”, finds that most companies are using marketing research tactically – to validate and optimize marketing messages with consumers, or to develop new products – vs. designing and executing research strategically to impact a company or brand’s direction moving forward. BCG finds that more than 70 percent of the study participants apply research in those two more tactical contexts, whereas less than 40 percent use consumer insights to set product prices, develop promotions, forecast financial results and forge channel and distribution strategies.
According to Kate Manfred, a co-author of the study and principal in BCG’s Chicago office,
“Some organizations spend all of their budget on very tactical bits of data that are very hindsight orientated. So, they spent a lot of time getting syndicated tracker data and spend data for things that happened in the past. Other organizations have some of that, but they also allocate a fair amount of their spend to gathering data and insights that are much more strategic and forward-looking around where the consumer is going to go next.”
One of the key challenges identified by researchers and the brands they represent is synthesizing disparate sources of information – including capturing consumer dialogue and emotional connection in social media outlets - and explaining what it all means. And of course, the number one issue is turning insights and analytics into actionable recommendations. This is likely something we can all relate to – how do you turn all this data and observations into a “big idea” that can sell more product?
Finally, BCG found no link between how much a company invests in market research and its maximized utilization of it. However, the study recommends that companies better prioritize how they spend those dollars, focusing on deep-dive strategic efforts instead of tactical, short-term exercises.