Having a solid research plan in place can help companies stay prepared and avoid unwanted surprises.
Editor's note: Noel Roos is vice president at Diedrich RPM, a Burnsville, Minn., research company. She can be reached at 320-760-8223 or at email@example.com. Roos is located in Burnsville and Alexandria, Minn. This article appeared in the August 12, 2013, edition of Quirk's e-newsletter.
Good research is more than the sum of its parts - it's what makes a solid brand and a solid company.
Think about this statement the next time your company (or a company you know) finds itself in a situation where there is a sudden, escalating problem that was not predicted. Why didn't you know what was coming? How could you have been better prepared? How can you track trends and capitalize on them as a company instead of putting out fires?
The answer, of course, is a comprehensive research plan that's built and implemented specifically for your company. Put the cookie cutters away!
Every company should have a customized, solid research plan that utilizes both innovative research techniques and proven, old-school tools to help understand and address issues before they hurt the bottom line. The research should also help you develop, cross-sell and upsell and keep your brand moving forward.
What research technique your company implements will depends on many factors but should stretch to include new techniques that capture information differently. Consider the following:
- transactional data (good, old-fashioned modeling to understand and predict behavior);
- primary data (to keep on top of customer loyalty and consumer trends);
- qualitative data in the form of focus groups;
- a mobile research study for an ethnographic approach to gather pictures, audio clips and video to understand consumer behavior at a very base level; and
- facial recognition to understand how a campaign, product or service really performs, as opposed to what polite society might say about it (preferably before the launch).
There are countless proven research techniques - both old and new - and if your company is tracking the world as it pertains to your product and brand then there should be no surprises because you'll catch them before they surface. And you can capitalize on change instead of scrambling to fix it. There's no "fix" for many consumer trends but there is a way to ride the wave. Get on it early enough and it could mean that you will lead the way and set your brand on a winning course.