Is your market research (MR) driving your bottom line? Do you have a clear strategy and expected ROI for your MR efforts?  If not, can you really expect that the research you are doing will be an effective use of resources?

As a practioner, I often look back at the research conducted and realize that while often very well executed, it often ends up being of limited value in the overall scheme of things for the organization.

This is a problem because budget are limited and spending in one place usually means less spending somewhere else. In fact, market research is one area that companies are definitely looking to get greater value. And, increasing value is not just about reducing the cost of research (though this is certainly one motivation). Unfortunately, getting greater value requires both suppliers to do a better job at providing value and companies doing a better job at identifying needs.

One of the best ways for companies to do a better job of identifying needs is to step back and conduct an audit of what they are doing. This audit would focus on the following aspects of studies that they have taken:

  1. Unique value: What did the study contribute? Did we follow the advice of the study and in what ways?
  2. ROI: What were the business performance implications for how the research was used relative to its cost?

It is also advisable, though more difficult, to raise the question of what are the consequences of the research we are not doing. But even, if you can’t revisit every past decision without MR, you certainly can ask yourself the following questions: what do we not know or think we know but have no evidence? What information would help us get where we are going?

Every five years, every organization should evaluate its MR practices so that the market research is better aligned with corporate priorities and with the strategic goals of the organization.

The victims of a market research audit are most likely the pet project and the never-ending tracking study. Can you think of others?