Using the words of our very own CEO, Paul Hudson: “To survive in a global marketplace, brands cannot afford to wait on data. Decisions must be made fast. And they must be reliably informed.” That’s where the value of insight from your market research studies comes in!
Market Research: Stats and Facts
Market research, and the insights that it produces, is one of the most common drivers of change in organisations across all industries — While this statement may seem bold, it is actually supported by 71% of insights professionals who see research as an important catalyst for change. In another study, market research also appears as the top source of influence on decision makers according to IBM:
So, we know market research is a key driver of change and decision making in organisations. Now imagine the specific role of the insights in the decision-making process.
I think it’s important to establish here why I’m making a distinction between research and insight. I hear the terms used interchangeably so often, but these are two very distinguishable things. For anyone in need of clarification, Research is defined as “the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions”, while insight is “the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something.”
The Benefits of Insights
As I’ve covered in a previous blog, insights are the almost euphoric ‘aha’ moments, and what makes an insight valuable comes down to what the business can and will do with that insight; is it the pivotal piece of information that defines how the business moves forward? Is it key to updating an outdated or ineffective process? Whether the action is great or small, valuable insights are findings that will trigger a new action and keep a business ahead of your competitors.
In a world where the risks in decision-making are now so much greater, largely due to smarter technology, increase in automation and big data becoming even bigger, we can no longer rely on gut feeling to make business decisions. Using insights to drive your organisations’ decision-making also comes with many benefits:
- It is a more cost-effective approach to business, minimising any investment risk.
- It allows businesses to be a more customer-focused organisation, with the voice of the customer being put at the heart of all of their decisions.
- It provides businesses with a competitive advantage, helping them identify their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
- Using insights helps organisations to plan their projected growth by identifying emerging trends within their customer-base and in the general consumer population.
- Insights allows for business agility; helping to make quick decisions on up-to-date and relevant insights.
But these are only a few of the more generalised benefits that insights bring to the table. Each business that uses market research to uncover actionable insights will be able to see their own unique benefits revealed both in the long-term and short-term.
Effectively Using Insights
So, the golden question… how do you embed insight into your organisations’ decision-making process?
1. Plan and execute!
First and foremost, it’s about understanding how your research fits with your business goals. Define what you want to achieve and what you want to get from the research and plan the types of projects that will achieve this — most will know this as a research road map. Then choosing the right approach, pinpointing clear objectives that link to your business goals so you can develop actionable insights and putting that research into action. Your business goal should always be front of mind throughout the whole process.
2. Focus on quality of data
Ensuring your data is accurate, relevant and up-to-date is paramount. Speaking to the correct target audience and choice of research method play a key role here, along with the source of your data — your insights depend on this.
3. Understand what is needed from your data
Knowing how the analysis will help lies at the heart of being able to generate valuable insights. An insight doesn’t just become valuable because it’s interesting. It should have a clear link to the business goals. I have seen far too often reports full of interesting findings, but clarity around what this means for the business is what drives insights.
4. Know your audience and engage the right people
Create a clear insight message for the target audience; how you then deliver that message depends on who in the organisation you’re speaking to and the type of output most suitable for them. You may be delivering your messages to a research professional who wants to know the data behind the insights, or it could be the company CEO who is more interested in an action-orientated executive summary.
Key questions you should consider when thinking about the decision makers in your organisation — How much time do they have on their hands? What is the important detail for them to know to make those important decisions? How can I best convey these messages to this audience?
Other visual and interactive outputs when used appropriately, such as Infographics, video diaries and mood boards are also a great way to engage your stakeholders in the findings and bring the insights to life.
5. Create an insight-led culture in your organisation
Embedding insight into an organisation ultimately relies on the beliefs and behaviours of the people. This may require some educational seminars or workshops so that the employees are equipped with the theoretical and practical knowledge of the potential market research provides and how to conduct market research to better their own decisions. Be an advocate for insight and sell the benefits of using insight to reduce the risk that comes with big decisions and change.
I have no doubt there are more strategies and tips for embedding insight into decision-making. Feel free to add more in the comments below!
The original version of this article appeared on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.