Where are all the Research Innovations in our Marketing Industry? Whenever I review the results of marketing research for major brands, I surprised by the lack of any ground breaking consumer research projects. The only areas of research innovation seem to center around transforming more and more research function onto the Web, either in the data collection or the analysis phase. But is this all? Or are there areas that I just miss?
If you look at any existing marketing research, one can identify three key areas:
- Quantitative Research that collects primary data points and draws conclusions by deciphering data based insights. This is done primarily by interviewing Consumers Online, via Phone, or through a paper based survey.
- Ethnographic Research that relies on the intuitive insight capability of the “In-Field” Researcher who deciphers relevant insights by spending time and energy with consumers in as close as possible natural environment
- Psychology based Research that relies heavily on psychological concepts and insights of human psyche and interaction. Tools used are primarily 1:1 interviews, Focus groups or Observations within an Experimental Context.
Over the last 10 to 15 years these three areas have not significantly experienced any innovation disruption as far as I have observed. It seems that the real innovation of marketing research will not come through further transferring research tools Online but in the strive for understanding how consumers talk to each other about brands. Indications of disruptive research methodologies can be seen in companies like MotiveQuest who decipher the millions of Online blogs and chats to see how consumers talk and write about brands. Or it can be seen in Google’s attempts to further mine any available Online information to understand consumer interests and thereby design more targeted and relevant advertising messages. Or in P&G’s Tremor marketing group that is building segment specific Connector communities.
I believe that we need teams who develop innovative approaches in trying to understand the consumer’s brand stories. It’s all based on the emerging marketing axiom that successful companies will be the ones whose consumers tell the brand stories, not the companies who tell the best stories. Therefore any company who want to be a brand leader in this story telling world needs to understand how consumers tells stories. Currently we don’t know a lot about it. Let’s change that.