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Written by Elizabeth Nelson, PhD | Amsterdam
on October 20, 2021

Every year market research becomes more integral to all areas of business and marketing, from being able to back up your ideas with data to using your current place in the market as a crucial starting point to track success. This is especially true in the life sciences industries. In fact, this year corporations—both small and large—will spend over $70 billion dollars on market research.  However, there are some common mistakes that can have a negative impact on your efforts. Rather than helping you to gain insight, they could be skewing your decisions in the wrong way.

Here are five ways you might be messing up your market research and what you can do to turn it around. 

1. Not knowing your competitors

Starting with a competitive audit can save a lot of time and money in the long run. Knowing what your competitors are actually doing versus what they say they’re doing, and assessing what they’re doing better than you, will give you a clear starting point. Your market research can then cover what you want to learn out about your brand’s image and inform how you position yourself in the market. Research that looks at the competitors AFTER collecting brand awareness or satisfaction information can miss some huge opportunities to find out transformative insights.

Free Guide: Evaluate your competition

2. Reinventing the wheel

Often research is created in the moment and fails to consider learnings from past studies. Companies that measure, repeat and benchmark themselves against the market have a clear and longitudinal view of growth opportunities and business shortfalls. Taking the time to create future-proof research can save a lot of time in the long run and give much richer insight into where the company is now and where to put energy  in the future. Creating a strategic plan with your research agency can help  measure progress toward short- and long-term goals. Having your research agency also be your creative agency is even better.

3. Using small data

Whether you’re doing qualitative or quantitative research, there’s no excuse for not making use of the millions of data points available about your brand, industry and customers.  Research trends show more and more companies combining qualitative and quantitative methods to give a bigger picture.

Qualitative research (usually interview-based) is being used to explore and give deeper insight on a small scale (usually less than 10% of quantitive results).

Quantitative data (surveys, large data set analysis, etc) examine larger numbers and can give higher validity because of the size of the data. Combining these two gives you, well… exploratory, rich, highly valid data. It’s the ideal and with so many available channels to collect data quickly, safely and at a high value, there really is no excuse for having all research be BIG!

Read more: How can you measure the health of a brand? (A real-life example)

4. Not knowing your numbers

Quantify, quantify, quantify! No, we’re not just talking about finances. There is an evolution in companies where every department has to know their numbers down to the finite details. Marketing departments are no different. Do you know your NPS? Have you examined and quantified the growth of your market outside the financial? What research is happening in this area? How many patents are pending for materials in your area? How does your social media compare to your competitors? Have you examined the positive vs. the negative  sentiment on social media over months and years? How have people changed the way they talk about you? Research software today can do analysis on positive words/phrases vs negative words/phrases, then giving overall sentiment scoring on comments.  Quantify everything!

Read more: How can you measure the ROI of a social media campaign?

Get a social media audit

5. Keeping research in a silo

Insight can help in all areas of the business. Using research should at least be integrated into the business strategy and creative work. Research can also test and measure your communication strategy. You can measure down to each word what strikes people as true, interesting and/or innovative, as well as insincere, boring or old fashioned. Testing your branding before-hand can tell you a great deal about how well you’re speaking to your clients and may challenge how you think about yourself. Integrate insight into all areas and have departments speak to each other, at least through sharing insight.

Keep innovating with your research, and good luck!

UP is a full service agency and one of the reasons is because integrating insight into strategy, creative and digital just makes sense.  UP starts all major marketing, branding, advertising, digital and creative service projects with a deep understanding of your customers, competitors and marketplace.  This covers both quantitative and qualitative research and can range from desk and digital research to online surveys, telephone interviews and focus groups.

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