Catching up with the Joneses

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So, it turns out doing a podcast is more time-consuming and a bit tougher than just opening up a blog post and typing. That is, if I want to have a good-sounding podcast. Otherwise, I’d be releasing a podcast daily by just recording my thoughts when I have them and publishing! 

However, I rather like the idea of having all of the “um’s” and other interjections reduced through the magic of sound editing. But if you all would prefer un-edited 10- to 15-minute musings of the MRXplorer, leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter or LinkedIn, and I’ll happily oblige. 

Now, to the actual topic of this blog post: catching up with the Joneses.

I’ve been enthralled with some of the new(er) applications of technology that are surfacing in the world of market research. Automated surveys, linking panelist information to survey results for a deeper understanding of your respondents, automated analysis, even reducing time to field by removing some of the time spent dealing with panel providers to identify the correct panels on which to field your study. 

gold colored figure among a sea of white figures
Stand out by differentiation

I’ve also been curious about how quickly some of the large market research supplier firms have been adopting newer technologies for conducting research and streamlining their processes. In a sense, it seems like the new kids on the market research block are the Joneses, and the large firms are finding ways to catch up. 

Is this the right thing to be doing, though? Do we really need to saturate the market research supplier field with lookalikes, where every firm is a “full, end-to-end service” firm but without any real differentiation? Isn’t that one of the very things market research sets out to tell business decision makers – what their potential point(s) of differentiation can be, and how to maximize market penetration based on that differentiation?

Perhaps these large market research firms would be better served by capitalizing on what they’ve been known for doing best: large-scale research projects. Do these need to be trackers? No. What about creating connections among third-party data sources that can be mined for quick insights? For example, client H wants to know what estimated portion of the population already uses EDF products. A firm that already has connected panelist information from various panels and telemetry information from third-party sources might be able to provide a pretty informed estimate in a day. 

Or what about firms that specialize in virtual reality research platforms, or augmented reality research platforms? For example, client W wants to try a virtual reality project to test some product placement ideas, but doesn’t have the full budget to do it. So, they go to a DIY style platform where they can select “retail experience” and upload their concepts to create the VR experience for people. Call it the DIY platform of the future. 

This is all very much stream of consciousness, but I heard someone lament the fact the last market research conference they’d attended, they got a bit tired of how many firms introduced themselves with, “We’re a full-service research firm.” Especially for large client companies, we want to hear what makes you different. We already have a long list of the full-service firms. To help us all move forward, we need your differentiation.

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