I can always tell when a client has read the Steve Jobs biography, because it usually generates comments like, “market research isn’t necessary” and “we should go with our gut” or my favorite, “the customer doesn’t know what they want until we give it to them.” Um, OK. First of all, Steve Jobs didn’t create things in a vacuum. He observed what existed in the marketplace and used his amazing intuition to revise products that reinvented user interface – thus generating demand. There were cell phones before Steve Jobs. There were tablets before Steve Jobs. Yes, Apple is amazing and yes, they redefine the experience for consumers, but I assure you that somewhere, once upon a time, Motorola did market research to figure out that people would pay money for a mobile phone.
Market research does matter; it is necessary. So much so, that it’s the first step in the R.U.D.E. process here at bloomfield knoble. Let’s start with the basics – marketers perform research to gain insight into the needs, desires, perceptions and preconceptions of their customers. They then use that insight to improve their decision-making and to achieve better outcomes. This is important because we (agencies and companies alike) sometimes think we know better what the public thinks or what our market is like than we actually do. One of the misconceptions about market research is that every decision requires market research. While I think that every decision requires research it doesn’t have to be full-blown market research. At bloomfield knoble, we have a research system in place that is constantly gathering information so that when we have to make decisions, that information is at our fingertips, at the right time, with the right kind of data. Occasionally, a decision needs to be made where research won’t have been done and the data won’t be available. When that happens, it’s time for market research.
I’m going to go a bit out of order from traditional thinking and skip past research methods and design (for now), because I think it’s important to understand the stages of research in order to formulate an appropriate research objective:
Stage 1 – Specify Research Objective: what are we trying to find out?
Stage 2 – Research Design: what kind of data do we need to collect?
Stage 3 – Research Methods: Usually defined by the kind of data we need to collect, but need to understand how our research method will determine our objective and vice versa.
Stage 4 – Collect Data: The actual execution of the research.
Stage 5 – Interpret Data: This is where the nerd jokes begin. On the surface, it seems obvious – what did the data say? The truth, however, is that data can be interpreted a lot of different ways (I mean a lot of different ways). If we’ve done a good job putting together the objective and the design, then the questions we want answered should be answered. However, data gathered often influences other decision making processes.
Stage 6 – Prepare Reports: Final product of the report.
Even though “reports” are the last step, to us at bloomfield knoble, they are often the first step. It is important for us to understand how our clients need to receive the information. If I had my way, I would just deliver spreadsheets with data points, but if that doesn’t help our client in their decision-making process, then the entire market research project won’t be effective or impactful to them. If a client wants to see pie charts, then we know ahead of time how to structure the research to achieve delivery the way clients expect. It’s not just about client service, it’s about recognizing that not every company approaches the decision making process the same way.
A STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) graduate and COO of bloomfield knoble, Thomas exemplifies the view that advertising is becoming an engineering discipline. He leads the integrated insights and strategic planning group in a way consistent with bloomfield knoble’s goal of bringing a strong analytical foundation to uncover fresh and innovative insights and business opportunities.