Perspectives from Bernd Grosserohde of GLG
How would you define insight?
An insight is knowledge that makes a difference. Differences are ubiquitous in business: sale numbers have gone down this quarter by 5%; our brand awareness in the U.S. is 20% higher than in APAC. These are just facts and numbers. In and of themselves there’s nothing wrong with them. But if you can understand what difference they make for you as a decision maker, then you have an insight.
How can market research go beyond information to deliver insight?
Generating insights is not necessarily just data analysis or data interpretation. Market researchers can’t miraculously turn information into insight; context matters. Market research is most powerful when it puts information in a meaningful context, when it connects new information with existing knowledge. It’s important to know what business decision will be informed by the research data. Ideally, researchers will also know what decision comes next and which decisions have been made. Understanding this context is as important as the data collection and analysis itself. It allows the researcher to support business decision making, as opposed to just generating tables and PowerPoint charts.
How does market research use business context to generate insights?
Customer feedback can be useful in new product development. We could conduct a survey with potential buyers and ask what their needs are, how important certain new benefits or features would be for them and how much they are willing to pay for these features. But that’s a kitchen-sink approach to research. A better practice focuses on one business decision at a time.
Product development starts with a “where-to-play” decision: What customer pain points are relevant growth opportunities? Then comes the value proposition: How does it resonate with potential buyers? How can it be improved? This is followed by monetization: What are critical value drivers of my new product, how much are customers willing to pay for it?
Research is much more insightful and actionable if it is cumulative, addressing one business decision after the other with a targeted method. A good researcher doesn’t merely deliver isolated pieces of information but connects the dots to create a stream of market knowledge.
Any last thoughts on insight?
An average customer does not exist. This is true across markets and industries. Market researchers should be suspicious of averages in general and of averaging customers or buyers in particular. Different buyer segments have different needs and priorities. Accordingly, each customer segment has a different value for a business. Revealing the heterogeneity of markets and the resulting business opportunities should be the focal point of market research.
Bernd Grosserohde, Director of Strategic Solutions, GLG