We met with a client to think through a strategy to protect its organization's market research knowledge. Protecting its market understanding was especially important since its market research analysis staff shrunk dramatically the last few years with no replacements planned any time soon.
As with many companies, this one has undergone dramatic brand strategy changes: old brands have gone away, new brands have emerged, and significant alterations have taken place nearly everywhere else. The central question was what historical market research data to re-organize and retain along with what market research data to let go.
Our recommended strategy called for retaining and prioritizing four types of information from market research reports. If you're also facing a situation of tremendous change and a proliferation of available data, this list will help in considering what market research to retain:
- Methodology / Structural Background - Hang on to what you've learned about the right and wrong ways to use market research in talking with your marketplace. There's never a good reason to re-learn the ins and outs of doing market research in your particular business, particularly when you don't have as many people in place to do the actual market research. Another keeper? Market research surveys which allow you to reference specific survey questions that have been productive.
- What's Important to Customers - You want to preserve tracking information on what's important to buyers, especially if it's derived importance data (i.e., statistically determined insights on what predicts customer behaviors and perceptions). If your market research budget is squeezed and you have to move to stated importance on surveys (where customers simply say what they think is important), it's beneficial to have derived importance data as a reference point, even if it's slightly dated.
- Keep Inputs for Market Sizing and Forecasting - For many business markets, there are no readily available sources of syndicated or third party data to actively size a market, especially in specific niches. In those cases, primary business-to-business market research may be the only reliable source to gauge market trends. Make sure to keep elements which help estimate sizes and forecasts for the markets you serve. Even with change going on, you can adjust and modify when you start with a solid, even somewhat historical, knowledge base.
- Work that Will Demonstrate Value - Even if dated, retain market research reports which demonstrate where research contributed value to the business previously - backing up positive business decisions, challenging what were (or would have been) poor strategic decisions, or forward-looking predictions that ultimately come to fruition. You always want the raw materials to demonstrate value you've provided when trying to make a case for greater customer understanding.
That's our take on the subject. What types of historical market research data do you prioritize within your company? – Mike Brown
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