Marketing Thought

Market Research Lessons

Alex and Mike Sherman have a book of market research lessons. This is a nice little book of sensible ideas. I liked it and will highlight a few of the points that stood out for me.

Aims Of The Research Should Impact What You Study

This seems obvious, and it is really. Still, it is easy to forget why you are doing the research when designing the study. The authors note that:

if the objective is to grow the market via greater category penetration then you need to make sure that you include non-category users in the research.

Sherman and Sherman, 2021, page 36

Your current customers can’t necessarily tell you much about people who aren’t currently buying.

Results And Ideas

The authors highlight a couple of ideas that I often return to.

Firstly, some marketers don’t like to be judged. If someone tells you something can’t be measured it is reasonable to be a little cynical. I am deeply suspicious of experts who tell you they are brilliant at what they are doing but have no way to show this beyond the fact that they have made a lot money from gullible people. (For the nadir of nonsense along those lines see here.)

The authors also clearly state the value of qualitative research. Such research isn’t going to give you “the answer”. It isn’t supposed to. Yet, doing work up-front talking to consumers can help you ensure you are asking the right questions in research down the line. interviews….are often invaluable, not because they provide answers (which they do not) but because they provide questions.

Sherman and Sherman, 2021, page 74

Market Research Lessons Not From Agatha Christie

Possibly my favorite idea was what they call an “Agatha Christie Report”. This is a report with a big reveal at the end. It typically is not at all helpful. Those reading or listening to the report can’t really know how to look at the report without knowing up-front what is aiming to be shown. The report won’t make sense until the big reveal. By that point, the reader will have to go back to the beginning and read it again to see how everything fits together. Don’t follow Agatha Christie’s approach in market research. (While I’m giving random advice try and avoid some of her dated use of language too).

Agatha Christie Reports Are A Bad Thing: Don’t Wait To Have A Big Reveal

Read: Alex Sherman and Mike Sherman (2021) 52 Things We Wish Someone Had Told Us About Customer Analytics,

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