Consumer Insights Market Research Research Methods

Get answers fast: secrets of an in-house researcher

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Lauren McCabe

It was a dream project: a new product launch, and I was the brand manager. 

I was responsible for everything: agency management, ad budgets, strategy. 

As I was preparing to brief agencies, I realized we were missing something crucial research. 

Specifically, consumer research, and more acutely consumer insights – data-backed morsels that revealed our audience’s truth. 

I was juggling the opinions of a half-dozen stakeholders about what our audience thought and cared for. 

That voice inside my head kept saying, ‘Is this true? How do we know if it’s true?

I didn’t have time to commission a custom study to prove otherwise, and I was nervous. 

What if we were wrong? What if blew our budget on something that failed dramatically simply because we didn’t take the time to understand our audience? 

What could I do? 


Fast forward to today: I work in consumer strategy at MDRG and I’ve learned there is ALWAYS an opportunity to do research – even in a crunch. 

Yes, it’s best to invest early and often in research to get deeper insights. 

No, this doesn’t mean you should abandon research all together.  

Below, you’ll find the research resources I wished I had when I was seeking answers about our audience. 

I hope this helps you! 

  1. Quickly test concepts with DIY qualitative & quantitative research tools

    While commissioning custom qualitative or quantitative projects are best for gaining the deep understanding of the audience you need, there are a few tools that can speed this process along in a crunch. Our analysts at at MDRG shared a list of seven DIY research tools that you should have in your back pocket in case you need to test concepts or probe focus groups in a pinch.

  1. Learn about your audience from your competitors and peers

    Your competitors are running campaigns and there is a lot you can learn form them: What consumer pain points are they addressing? How are they positioning their brand? Most importantly, how are consumers responding? 

    While in-depth competitive reviews should be performed yearly to inform strategy, targeted competitive insights should be pulled frequently – at least quarterly – to inform tactics.  

  • Meta’s ad library enables you to view ads on Facebook and Instagram to quickly see the campaigns your competitors are running. 
  • LinkedIn will also show you a brand’s ads. Simply navigate to a company’s page, click “posts,” and then “ads.” 
  • Reading comments on ads and content will give you an idea of how your audience is reacting to these concepts – if at all. 

Tip: Review ads from brands in adjacent industries who are targeting a similar audience. While their products may differ from yours, their understanding of their consumer will have similar threads. 

  1. Immerse yourself in your consumer’s world

    Secondary research is a good way to understand the social forces impacting your consumer. These supporting insights can steer you in the right direction quickly. They’re also a great way to understand the areas you should be probing in future qualitative and quantitative research.  

  • Think with Google offers insights on shifts in consumer behavior – including generational attitudes. 
  • Google trends is a fascinating way to understand how human interest is ebbing and flowing over time, and gives you the ability to drill down into how consumers are searching for topics – all the way down to your city. It even tells you how much news is being generated about a given topic (great for integrating a PR strategy into your launch) 
  • Free white papers by McKinsey, Forrester and more give you access to data-backed research quickly. 
  1. Find insights from within your organization

    Does your organization have a strategy department? Analytics department? A customer service team? Media Expert? Social media expert?  Chances are, they have access to consumer insights that could help you. 

    At MDRG, we encounter clients who haven’t reviewed internal research simply because they don’t know it exists.  We add value by reviewing research and plucking out insights that are relevant then putting them into context with our findings – you can do this too! 

  1. Listen to what your consumer is already saying

    Twitter advanced search often pulls MORE results than data-throttled social listening tools and can give you a sense of the conversation that is happening about a topic in real time. 

    Facebook groups offer a window into the whirling niche communities. 

    Often, organizations have a trove of data on their social pages that have gone untouched. Start here! 

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