Don’t ask

One of the biggest issues (there are many) with traditional research is that it is based on a Q&A system. You get people in a focus group, send them surveys, organize panels and do interviews to get answers to key business questions. The basic problem is that information is probed and can be very easily manipulated to prove any hypothesis. A focus group is just as effective as the moderator, surveys are as good as the questions and answer options in them, a panel is as useful as the topics and directives used to stir the discussion and interviews provide as much information as the interviewers want to ask.

Asking questions puts the respondents in a specific mindset that is limited to answering questions. The respondents are talking to a company, they are artificially incentivized and their answers largely depend on their willingness and comfort level in sharing information with a complete stranger. To sum it all up, what you get in case of traditional market research are claimed responses with high degree of respondent bias and no real insights.

So how to transform market research to find the real insights from the consumers? Short answer: don’t ask. There is enough information available in the super connected world out there to learn about the consumers and extract insights from their conversations. What is needed is a technology infrastructure and innovative techniques to collect this information, organize it and analyze it to extract real insights.

Contrast traditional market research with MavenMagnet big social data based research. MavenMagnet research has zero bias built in because it is dependent on patterns formed out of the information out there. There are no respondents. People are sharing information in their social world, not with a company. The mindset is a normal like it is in their everyday life. They are not incentivized, but are self-motivated. The insights are real and actionable.

So the question is why is something that is cumbersome, slow, expensive and biased not completely replaced by something that is convenient, quick, economical and impartial? The core reason is legacy. Traditional research has been around for several decades. Generations of market researchers have grown doing this and have a certain comfort level with it. And above all, transformation takes time. Eventually the comfort and confidence level of market researchers with big data based research will increase and reach a tipping point which will change the face of this industry for ever. Why we know that? Because we can analyze past trends to predict the future!

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