It’s that time of the year again (don’t worry Bethan, this is not a Christmas blog…) – the nights are getting longer and colder, we’re bunking down and watching more TV, and market research is getting its annual bashing on The Apprentice. However, I’ve noticed it’s not only The Apprentice that seems to be badmouthing the good name of market research at the moment.
In a couple of my other current favourite TV programmes, I’ve been surprised to hear market research being referenced – in Nashville for example (an unlikely context in a drama series about country music), and in Modern Life is Goodish where Dave Gorman spent a whole episode of his series talking about how, as a nation, we’re obsessed with market research.
When watching these, after my initial reaction of ‘Woo! Market research, that’s what I do!’ (you can’t blame me. It’s not exactly a career that gets much press outside of elections and referendums…) I tune back into what is being said about my profession. As you might have guessed, what they’re saying about market research is rarely positive.
In The Apprentice, market research is often considered an inconvenient and annoying time waster, always conducted badly and always ignored.
In the Nashville episode, market research findings were angrily discussed by a fading country music star who didn’t want to hear the bad news revealed.
And Dave Gorman spent a whole episode taking market research findings out of context and making them extremely funny, but in the process, making the research seem very silly and pointless. Here he is talking about the YouGov profiles tool.
It all left me a little disheartened that market research was being sullied in this way, albeit by non-experts who have probably never seen good market research in action or the positive outcomes it delivers.
So how can we reassure the casual observer that market research isn’t the farcical, pointless exercise that TV makes it out to be? Well, by proving to you and our clients that when executed correctly, it’s a critical business tool. One that provides knowledge and reassurance to make strong business decisions. One that enables organisations to develop and deliver services, products and communications that are aligned with customer needs. And ultimately, by delivering a return on investment far exceeding what was initially spent on the research.
“We have saved in excess of £2m throughout this year by introducing the new switch functionality which came out of Mustard’s research. The number of customers saved is in excess of 1,500. An average saving per policy has been calculated at £1,100.” - Christine-Ironfield-Smith, Insight Manager, Aviva UK Life
Market research might not be coolest kid in the playground, but it remains our mission to prove to the world that it is critical to long-term success, and not the farcical waste of time as portrayed by certain TV shows. Who fancies pitching a TV show to oppose some of the negative press about our industry? Perhaps a series of ‘Market Research Off’, whittling down researchers doing show stopping research projects to find the ultimate market researcher? Well, it would give Mel and Sue something to do now anyway.