Written in collaboration with Kathryn Korostoft.
In a fall 2010 study conducted by the authors on behalf of the American Marketing Association, in preparation for the 2010 Market Research Conference (AMA MRC), we surveyed 882 AMA members, about market research topics they were interested in and challenges they are facing in their market research roles.
In this article we present the results from client-side researchers, and the implications for market research agencies. By examining the results from the client-side respondents (416 of the 882 participants), the opportunity exists for market research agencies to get a sanity check on how well they are doing in terms of addressing their clients’ current priorities.
The top three challenges identified by the client-side subgroup were:
- Limited market research budget (61% respondents)
- Lack of time and staff to thoroughly analyze research results (51% respondents)
- Lack of time to learn new market research methods (44% respondents)
These results represent an age-old issue of not enough time and not enough money, which is not surprising. If we contrast them with the lesser rated items, we begin to see that those results are more than just superficial. Some of the lesser-important items reported were:
- Finding and selecting new market research reporting tools (24% respondents)
- Finding vendors that stay on top of trends in our industry (19% respondents)
- Finding skilled market researchers to staff internal market research team (10% respondents)
Keep in mind these results were in the form where people could select all that applied. When forced to select only one of the items, limited market research budget stays at the top at 24%.
Top Topics of Interest
Market researchers were also asked about what topics would be of interest to them for future conferences or learning events. Using the Maximum Difference Scale (MaxDiff) approach, we tested 26 market research topics and ranked them by preference. These results show that client-side researchers were mostly interested in:
- Market segmentation
- Branding research
- Latest trends in the market research industry
- Social media monitoring and sentiment analysis
- New online qualitative market research techniques
Items of less interest? Pricing research, mobile research, and ethnography (at 23rd!). Of course, these are also items that are more relevant to some industries than others, which likely explain their overall lower scores. So just as agencies promote segmentation to clients, they also need to do it themselves.
Many market research agencies invest in producing webinars, white papers, and other content in order to educate clients and establish brand credibility during the sales cycle. Using these research results, they can align the topics with actual client priorities.