“Shaken, Not Stirred”: The Current State of the MR Community
Editor’s Note: I was speaking to a very senior person at a major CPG company yesterday about trends in the industry from his perspective. After rattling off the usual list of “in-the-moment research, big data, new tracker models, etc.. ” he said something to the effect of ” That is all just process though, just how we get data. The biggest area for interest for us is understanding behavior. Behavioral science in all it’s forms is much more important for us. And it’s not about statistical rigor: if we can understand the core principles of behavior and apply them across the board, we know success will come.” This falls very much in line with what I’ve been hearing from clients for quite some time, and it’s backed-up by what we have seen in the levels of interest from clients, investors, etc.. into companies related to automating and scaling neuroscience, behavioral tracking, behavioral economics and anything else that helps fill in the gaps on understanding why we do what we do.
In today’s post Kevin Lonnie dissects the current dialogue in MR and zeros in on the same conclusion: although certainly there is value in the “who, what, when, where, & what” of data, for clients to get excited about the value of insights we need to deliver on the “why”.
By Kevin Lonnie
As an industry, we are shaken! I’ve read time and time again that all the new tools & techniques available to market researchers have shaken us to the core.
No point reviewing all those new tools here. Suffice it to say that big data, eye tracking, neuromarketing and behavioral economics are ready to make sushi out of traditional MR techniques.
Heck, we’ve been predicting Armageddon for traditional research so long, we might need to conduct a survey to see if anyone can remember our first “Evolve or Die” conference.
Which brings me to my point, while we as an industry might be shaken, exactly who are we stirring? It’s logical to assume that disruptive new technology would greatly enhance our standing in the business community. However, if we were to run a simple regression on this, I don’t think we would find the slightest correlation between all our shaking and our ability to stir.
As long as 90% of consumer based decisions are done without the input of marketing research, there’s (to quote Jerry Lee Lewis) just “a whole lotta shakin’ going on”.
I have a theory for why we’re failing to stir despite all our vigorous shaking. I would argue that our innovations have been sustainable and not disruptive. We are substituting A for B, typically because A is cheaper and easier. It’s an obvious improvement but not disruptive.
Changes in methodology may seem weighty to us but they aren’t changing the outcomes. Insights aren’t becoming more valuable just because we employ new methods, especially ones that fail to explain the ever elusive; “why?”.
As a result, we’re not moving up the food chain. The amount spent on consultants is 10X the amount that goes to our industry (roughly $15B US versus $150B for Management Consulting). As John Kearon of BrainJuicer pointed out “We do one-tenth the work because we present it badly; we charge one tenth of the price.”
New methods for capturing “Who, What & Where” are shaking our industry, but to stir the passions of our clients we need to answer “Why”. Unraveling the underpinnings of consumer decision making is the only clear path to better, bolder decisions (i.e. Profits!).
SOURCE: US Management Consulting Spend: http://www.plunkettresearch.com/consulting-market-research/industry-statistics
SOURCE: US Market Research Spend: Inside Research / May 2014, Issue 317