Sr. Director, Marketing and Operations
“Insights” are not just lists of interesting facts or consumer perceptions about your brand. Productive insights demonstrate a previously unrealized essential reality about your target market and how they relate to your brand. Quality insights provide a two-pronged benefit: they help you act on your customers’ unmet needs, and achieve greater profitability while doing so.
However, your investment in research is only as valuable as your internal teams’ ability to translate key insights into practical output. This article shows how to ensure your market research insights provide useful intelligence to guide your teams through decision-making and action.
Clarify what you aim to achieve
Obtaining useful insights depends on how specifically you articulate your objectives. While it can be beneficial to embark on an exploratory information-gathering mission, a hazy definition of what you are trying to achieve will yield hazy results.
Here are some aspects of business and brand where market research insights have the most potential to make a significant impact:
- Uncover new revenue sources
- Determine appropriate pricing strategies
- Measure current performance against market potential
- Examine brand awareness and customer sentiment
- Understand your competitive set
- Explore the customer journey
- Ensure you’re reaching your target market
- Understand cultural trends driving market trends
How insights guide your direction
Pay attention to what your results actually reveal – not what you would like them to say. Not all insights result in a major strategic about-face or a breakthrough understanding of your consumer. Data analysis can often validate your pre-existing assumptions. This, too, is valuable business intelligence. Your insights may reveal no action is required on your part, saving you from wasting time or resources chasing low-priority leads. If your gut says one thing, but your data reflects another, listen to the data.
On the other hand, data analysis may validate whether or not your approach is working, thus indicating the need to rethink your entire strategy. In order to make this intelligence meaningful for the rest of your teams, you must demonstrate the exact point of divergence between your current strategy and what the insights reveal.
Finally, your insights may show that while a major change of course is not necessary, you may need to adapt in smaller ways. Productive market research insights tease out seemingly minor points that provide a detailed picture of which business factors require adjusting.
Use the appropriate methodology
Relying on assumptions for creative and strategic decision-making is a risky course of action. Instead, effective market research insights can provide support for your hypothesis or guidance on direction. The two measurement types – qualitative and quantitative – are particularly useful to answer specific questions or aid particular departments. Knowing which to employ is crucial to laddering up your research into productive insights.
Qualitative market research surfaces your customers’ emotions and feelings. Findings based on your customers’ lived experiences help you draft an accurate consumer journey map and buyer persona. Insights from qualitative research enable your teams to dig deeper into your customers’ point of view and understand their motivations. This knowledge is especially useful for teams in the early stages of ideation or evaluating the value of pursuing a particular strategic or creative direction.
Quantitative research, on the other hand, adds another layer of evidence to secondary and qualitative research methods. This research drills down into the nitty-gritty to lock in on the exact, “this-or-that,” “how-much” aspects of your brand. Quantitative research delivers insights that make deciding between options easier, zeroing in on an exact price range, measuring which creative will perform better or which messaging resonates more strongly.
Help teams internalize findings by crafting a compelling narrative
Research can impact many aspects of your business, so it’s important to share your final insights across departments. Never assume your insights speak for themselves. Instead, make sure your research partner contextualizes insights within an interesting and inspiring broader story.
Use market research as a means to educate employees at different levels of the company. Though the data will drive the narrative, your teams will benefit from data visualization and plain language to make insights meaningful. You may end up incorporating research insights into sales meeting presentations, marketing and new product development initiatives, executive reviews, and strategic-planning sessions. The insights themselves will remain unchanged, but your research partner may need to develop multiple presentations prioritizing different aspects of the study’s findings.
Obtaining accurate insights is only half the puzzle. In order to fully capitalize on their value, you must take a deliberate approach to collecting, interpreting, and translating findings into a clear-cut narrative that makes sense to the rest of your team. When done effectively, market research insights add momentum to your brand’s decision-making cycle as you repeatedly take new action based on updated findings.