March 9, 2023

There Are Really Just Two Types of Market Research

Which type do you care about most?

Traditionally, market research was primarily a support function

Even today, a lot of quantitative market research is designed to either validate or invalidate existing hypotheses. It focuses on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ far more than on the ‘why’. (Generating first-party data using traditional means like multiple choice surveys is a good fit for this approach.) 

This mindset about market research is often mirrored by the position of the market research function in the organization. Marketers or salespeople ask for reports on different topics and then wait for the answers. The creation and application of resulting insights happens elsewhere.

This kind of market research works pretty well in stable environments, where change is predictable and sources of competitive advantage–or challenge–are easily identifiable.  

But what if the environment is evolving too rapidly to track using older methods? What if you want to know something new? Understand and then act on something your competitors haven’t yet grasped? 

Market research as a center of strategic insight 

Market research also has a different, more strategic legacy. One that’s increasingly in demand by modern enterprises. 

When research is more fully integrated into organizational decision making and planning processes from the start, it can deliver far more value. Research can anticipate and course correct in an agile manner rather than merely reacting or taking orders. 

The ultimate value of this type of research is rooted in the discovery of trends and insights that the competition isn’t privy to. It’s all about helping organizations navigate emergent, complex, and uncertain environments.

Another possibility presented by this more strategic vision is the democratization of research, empowering marketers, salespeople, and content creators to do their own research more frequently and in smaller bursts, testing ideas against the stakeholders that matter and iterating along the way. (Of course there’s still a major role for the market research function in enabling the democratization of research and in continuing to conduct large-scale or complex research projects.)   

But which research methodologies can simultaneously allow for more strategic, discovery-based, and democratized approaches to market research? 

One answer–and it’s still a good one!–is to conduct in-depth interviews, participant observation, and focus groups. These approaches are irreplaceable but they’re also slow, expensive, require specialized skills, and generate data that’s agonizing to code and act upon. 

Another answer is to employ social listening tools to track 3rd party conversations across social media platforms. Again, this is a vital approach but chatter on social platforms isn’t representative of the top-of-mind awareness, emotion, sentiment, or views of the audiences that matter most to brands and organizations. In fact only something like 20% of consumers regularly post anything at all about brands. 

When’s the last time you posted about your laundry detergent, at least since you participated in your most recent Tide Pod challenge?

For these reasons, and many more, including the legacy position of research in the enterprise, this more strategic vision of market research is incredibly difficult to get right. But the amount of value it can contribute to organizations is immense. 

Glimpse’s answer

When we started growing Glimpse, we wanted to create a platform that enabled more strategic, discovery-based, and democratized approaches to market research all at the same time–faster, easier, and more economical than other approaches, but with an unprecedented depth of insight and focus on emotion, sentiment, and top-of-mind awareness. 

We wanted to help our clients generate truly actionable first-party data that could drive smarter decisions and better investments. And we wanted the platform to be usable by an intern or a CEO but powerful enough for the most experienced market researcher to use. 

We realized that the only real option for genuine discovery was to target audiences with extreme speed and precision and then listen to their words and emotions–scale. That commitment meant investments in cutting-edge approaches to NLP (natural language processing) technologies to intelligently code responses and speed the path to insights. It also meant streamlining functionality and the user experience to allow non-professionals to get more out of the platform. 

Every decision we make at Glimpse–from UX to machine learning, audience recruitment to dashboard functionality–stems from that initial, customer-centric commitment to make strategic, discovery-first research easier, faster, and more democratic than ever before.

If you want to spend more time focusing on research as a driver of strategic value, shoot us an email.

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