Why do market research in B2B, either quantitative or qualitative?

Collaboration – 31 January 2017

Note: This blog post is about the number 7 and number 2 posts in our Exo B2B Top 10 blogs of 2016

I was quite happy to find out that 2 of my texts are among the top 10 Exo posts in 2016. I felt entitled to brag about it to my co-workers:  “put that in your pipe and smoke it, co-workers!”

To read these posts again:

Number 7 Qualitative vs. quantitative research

Number 2 The difficulty of building an effective questionnaire

I have to say though, I find it somewhat perplexing that these themes are still so read, and of interest to people. Currently see fewer and fewer clients excited about the idea of investing in rigorous market research.

I have a few theories and some observations as to why people are reluctant to invest in market research. Here goes.

Does marketing research kill the entrepreneurial spirit?

I stumbled upon a comment by the much respected Québec dragon (as in dragon’s den), François Lambert, on Facebook:

“Being an entrepreneur also means being a visionary and being out in front of peoples’ needs. I don’t believe in market research because it tends to ask people what they want. But to succeed, you must offer something innovative. Consider these words by Henry Ford:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said: we want faster horses.”

Well, I agree. However, I could not remain silent, so I wrote up a small clarification:

Market research does not capture what people would like, but allows, in many cases, to lower the risk in the development of a new product or service.

I believe the real answer often lies between the 2; a good dose of creativity from the visionary and, validation from the market when possible (in an ideal world, I know, I know!).

Moreover, according to the Harvard Business Review Companies are so focused on designing and manufacturing new products that they postpone the hard work of getting ready to market them until it’s too late in the game.

This means that the main reasons a product launch fails, are marketing ones! So, no, don’t dismiss the opportunity to do market research too quickly!

‘The Godwin point’ and market research: Apple’s example

First of all, a definition of the Godwin point:  “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1”

In the case of market research, the comparison isn’t with Nazi Germany, but with Apple: ‘Steve Jobs didn’t get the idea of the iPad by doing market research!’

True! But read the previously mentioned article and you’ll will see that the main reasons for failure of a launch of a new product are marketing reasons!

Some companies are the exception to this rule, just as Muhammad Ali had his own particular way of boxing … and by the way, never try to box like Ali because you’ll get beaten up!

The feedback from my clients is enough

“Oh, I often ask for feedback from my clients”.

“I’ll walk into trade shows and get all the insight I need”.

Yes, feedback is important. But that does not necessarily answer specific questions that you may have. In addition, there is a risk of a Halo effect; be blinded by an assertion that does not necessarily represent the reality of your clients. That’s when rigorous marketing research can help you see the real needs of your clients more clearly.

Is marketing research replaced by Big Data?

Big Data being the crap load of information generated by digital activities (mobile devices, IoT (Internet of Things), the Web, etc.), and for many customers, the data generated by their website meets the informational needs of the company.

Big Data certainly seems like the Eldorado of knowledge and will surely make marketing research obsolete.

Not quite. Marketing research allows you to get specific information on your current or potential clients. Big Data does not allow you to validate the specific questions that you are dying to ask your clients.




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