Why Is It Important Now To Conduct Marketing Research?

If you’re like us, you’re reading that right now it’s more important than ever to conduct marketing research. While we agree with that statement, from where we sit it has always been true that marketing research is a timely choice – and will continue to be. While business needs and challenges change, the relevancy of marketing research to help address those issues remains constant. So let’s look at some of the most current reasons why conducting marketing research in this moment is so crucial.

The New Normal is One of Disruption

Choose To Practice Adaptive Resilience

Some predict 2022 will be the year where there is a realization that there will be no “new normal” (unless you consider the “new normal” to be a constant state of change, disruption, and evolution.) This reinforces the need for (and importance of) marketing research.

Life changed in so many ways through the pandemic. Many companies leveraged research to gauge how their customers and prospects were feeling so they could pivot their messages, products, and services based on those insights.

So what about now? Things are still changing.

Is the current sentiment generally more serious or lighthearted? How are daily habits changing? What topics are top-of-mind? Do consumers want companies to weigh in on certain areas that impact society? What products/services are more or less relevant now?

These are just some of the considerations at hand as you figure out how to adapt in a state of constant change. We call it Adaptive Resilience. Companies can no longer assume that changes impacting them are a fluke or that there won’t be more rounds of disruption that shake all of us. Marketing research can help buffer against that. When you have a mindset that the “new normal” is about trying, testing, hits and misses, learning, and adapting – why not use all the tools at your disposal to inform your decision-making?

The good news is that the techniques, timelines, and talent available within the marketing research industry to capitalize on Adaptive Resilience have never been more robust. This gives businesses and organizations the best possible opportunity to benefit in this moment. 

Bottom Line: Marketing research, when used as an ongoing process (versus a one-off snapshot in time), equips businesses with the timely knowledge needed to be able to adapt and pivot when disruption occurs.

Fierce Competition

Business – You Are Competing Against More Choices Than Ever

It seems there are constantly new entrants into categories and/or non-traditional players looking to gain share from others. Understanding changing market dynamics and getting an early read on perceptions of these companies can help you understand what you are up against and whether it warrants any changes.

Brands are facing competitive threats from big tech companies like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon (FAMGA) as well as retail giants like Walmart. Big tech has been taking serious steps to enter new industries ranging from health insurance to healthcare, financial services, grocery, and automotive (just to name a few.) Beyond big tech, the number of other digital-only providers flourishing online also cannot be overlooked when assessing the dynamically shifting competitive landscape.

These may add up to a critical challenge for established industry brands, but it can also present opportunities to re-evaluate and recommit to exceptional customer experience (CX.) While brands can’t control emerging competitive threats, they can control their CX strategy. Conducting marketing research now can help by uncovering unmet customer needs, ways to enhance digital experiences, and opportunities to broaden services.

In 2021, the U.S. saw the greatest business growth in history with 5.4 million new businesses being created.

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Customers – You Are Competing For Their Emotions

Changing dynamics and the current environment are creating frustrations and stress for many consumers. People are constantly exposed to headlines on war, inflation, COVID, political divides, and more. It can leave people feeling overwhelmed or less willing to forgive poor experiences. But it can also create opportunity in terms of making sure the experiences customers have with your brand are seeking to alleviate those negative emotions.

It’s not only important to understand the emotional response generated by your products, services, and experiences, but also to understand how those emotions may vary across different audience segments or generations.

As far back as 2015, researchers found emotion to be the most important CX driver.

(Source: Forrester)

Bottom Line: Gathering insights early and often can help better position companies to stay ahead and stay relevant with customers. Consider diving deep into customer and market perceptions, as well as competitive positioning. It’s just one more reason why it is important now to conduct marketing research.

Information Inundation = Rapid Changes in Public Opinion

The speed and volume of information being generated continues to increase exponentially and that creates a mixed bag of issues to deal with. We’ve broken it down between the good, the bad, and the silos.

Internally – Organizations Deal With Huge Amounts of Data

The Good: Companies have the benefit of capturing more information about their customers and prospects in order to better serve their needs in a meaningful and relevant way.

The need to rely on factors like “how we used to do it” or just “gut instincts” becomes less critical (or relevant) with the wealth of information now available.

Now, companies are able to quickly tap into data to understand where prospects are coming from, where their brand is strongest, and where new market opportunities exist.

The Bad: With so much information, it can be hard internally to decipher what’s useful and what isn’t. Swimming in a sea of data without the ability to identify the most valuable insights can lead to delays and uncertainty.

That is, of course, the opposite effect organizations hope for when they think about putting data to work for them.

The Silos: Often information is housed in different areas within an organization which can make it difficult to make important connections. One group may have information that would be highly valuable to another without even knowing it.

That complete disconnect that is “hiding in plain sight” is such a missed opportunity.

Here is just one example of how it can happen. Traditionally, companies house employee experience (EX) with HR, while CX lives in a completely separate part of the business. Often paths never cross. But unlocking connections between the two can help harmonize the overall business experience. The real value comes by making those indirect linkages – insights that only emerge when deploying an integrated customer-centric view. It’s like an infinity loop empowering and enhancing CX and EX simultaneously.

Externally – Consumers Are Awash in A Sea of Information

The Good: People have the ability to be more informed than ever before. When a company excels, it’s likely to create buzz that prospects may hear about.

Having a deep understanding of the current needs, wants, and desires of customers can help an organization’s advertising, communications, and products/services be as compelling as possible. This in turn can increase the chances of capturing the attention of an information-overloaded consumer.

The Bad: When something goes wrong, it can spread like wildfire, causing outrage and often damaging the reputation of an organization. Companies are competing to get their messages across in an extremely crowded environment. Breakthrough is harder than ever.

 

So just how inundated is today’s customer with advertising and data?

Focusing just on digital ads alone, spending on that segment in the U.S. grew by more than 35% in 2021.

(Source: The Interactive Advertising Bureau)

How much is that?

If you were to store 175 zettabytes on DVDs, the stack of discs would circle the earth 222 times. 

(Source: Investors’ Chronicle)

If you tried to download 175 zettabytes at the average current internet connection speed in the U.S., it would take about 1.8 billion years!

(Source: Investors’ Chronicle)

The Silos: From a consumer perspective, silos can also impact what information they are exposed to. They may lean heavily on certain media outlets, or other channels, to get their information which may leave them unexposed to the other half of the story.

Bottom Line: Marketing research helps businesses make sense of their vast amounts of data to find what’s meaningful so it can be acted upon. That in turn allows businesses the insight to know how to inform customers about products and services so the message doesn’t get lost in all the noise. These are just more reasons why it is important now to conduct marketing research.

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