3 steps to becoming a Market Research Artist; making beautiful fact based decisions.

By Manoj Raheja

Let’s forgo the suspense.  The answer is a mix of both.

  • The Scientific mentality of an Einstein for market research is the price of entry.  While you don’t need a PHD in statistical modeling; you do need to understand how it works.
  • Once you have the foundation of Science; you will be far better served if you subscribe to the theory that Research is more art than science (having a touch of Michelangelo creativity can dramatically increase your chances of using research for better decision making).

Let me explain.  The science of research tells you to isolate variables, to compare versus norms, to determine significance testing.  But allow me to scare you for a second, before providing reassurance.  Imagine this scenario:

  • You do the best job you can to isolate all of the business variables.
  • You ensure that you have a database of category norms that will be relevant
  • And then I tell you that there is research to suggest that the same worded question using 2 different visual formats (i.e. with a slider scale vs. a radio button) can yield two different results.

So if you are analyzing metrics with a slider scale and comparing versus a database of norms that used radio buttons – is it possible you can see artificial increases or decreases? According to research from Bernie Malinoff, the President of Element54, unfortunately the answer is troubling.

http://element-54.com/2010/06/help-i-cant-get-off/

Rather than debate the point around how questions are asked; the point I want you to take away is simple – Research is not 100% Science and therefore it is imperfect (hold that tweet because this is far from breaking news…unless we’re on CNN)!

But we still need to increase our comfort when making high stakes decisions and Market Research is still a valuable tool. So how do we become Market Research Artists and stay out of the weeds of research imperfection (Now get your tweeting fingers ready!)?

STEP 1:  Inject Art into your definition of Market Research

  • Recognize market research is not 100% science
  • Have healthy skepticism on absolute precision
  • Remember that Research does not make decisions; it enables people to increase their comfort to make better decisions

STEP 2:  Know your business inside out (to limit Research imperfection)

  • Know your business performance results intimately
  • Talk to your consumers everyday (your spouse, friends, the mailman)

STEP 3:  When in Doubt → Triangulate

  • When you run into conclusions that don’t feel right (which happens only if you know your business), then make sure to triangulate. Use multiple data points to confirm/deny the conclusion in question before making quick decisions.

If you follow these 3 steps – you are well on your way to becoming a Research Artist; A blend of Einstein and Michelangelo that is bound to make beautiful fact based decisions!