Is marketing research suffering from an identity crisis?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt from a current article from the Joel Rubinson on the Marketing Research blog.
Marketing research has an identity crisis. So now we have the Insights Association (a merger of CASRO and the MRA) and a speaker at the annual MRS conference in the UK saying we should no longer use the label “market research.” Is the word “research” dead in favor of “insights”?
Dear researchers: the problem isn’t in the name — the problem is that we are losing relevance with regard to the key problems affecting this digital marketing age.
Does programmatic marketing really deliver higher ROI? How do we construct segments to target via ad serving rules for best performance? How can we best use mobile marketing? What media strategy works best to drive trial for a new brand? How can we target someone during their purchase journey and does it actually produce better results? We cannot address these (and other) important prediction questions with legacy insights tools.
And in frustration, marketing teams are turning elsewhere. A media client of mine told me, “The programmatic people tend to have disdain for ‘small data’ researchers, and the researchers tend not to understand programmatic concepts and tools.”
The key is that the marketing research function needs to expand its mission:
“Driving repeatable marketing success through predictive insights built on data, evidence, and analytics.”
Predictive insights are an idea plus a forecast. To deliver, we need to move closer to the intersection of data science and marketing research, and seek a new kind of insight — predictive rather than descriptive. Relating to shopper research, we need to move on from insights about how people shop or visually scan a shelf to predictive engines: “If I re-arrange the shelf, aisles, etc., or if I target a shopper with a beacon triggered offer, here is what is likely to happen to ring.”
The word “repeatable” is really important: predictive insights should be an annuity, producing improved performance each campaign, each brand, each year. And predictive insights are different from foresight (also needed) — they are built on analytics off of multiple data streams, not scenario planning. At the intersection, insights needs to be held accountable for improving marketing ROI, not just delivering ideas.
Call it insights or research — but if we stay with retrospective and descriptive insights, mostly rooted in surveys, we will lose relevance.
- Marketing research needs a mission change more than a name change – Joel Rubinson on the Marketing Research
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How can shopper marketing teams best leverage traditional and more advanced streams of intelligence? Is there a natural clash between devotees of data science and predictive analytics and those relying on survey-driven and observational insights?