A market research report lands on your desk, how do you critically evaluate it? Here we look at the five steps you need to work through, to ensure that you get best value from your research.
What decisions is the research designed to support?
The role of research is to provide information, to support decision-making. The only value of research is in improving the quality of decisions, and the resulting actions. It’s a good starting point to be clear about the decisions the market research report was designed to support. (This is basic, but often forgotten!)
How was the sample of respondents selected?
Sampling always creates bias. Your job is to understand how the sample was taken, the bias, and the implications. For example: reaching housewives through a street-intercept interview, outside a shopping center? You’re already speaking to women who are more likely to shop, may prefer shopping centers to other shopping locations, and may be more affluent than your target market as a whole. Make sure you think through the implications of the sampling.
How were the questions asked?
A good market research report will include the question format in the report so that you can interpret the results in the light of how the question was asked. For example, “45% of respondents see brand X as ‘innovative’”. Was that a result compiled from an open-ended “how would you describe brand X?” question, or were the respondents prompted with a list of choices? If respondents were prompted, the result is not as positive.
Does the market research report make the right conclusions, based on the participant feedback?
“There is an emerging trend in this market towards online shopping.” Sounds great right? But does the research really support that conclusion? Maybe it’s a seasonal trend, not an emerging trend. Maybe the research is showing the results of one key competitor’s recent online promotion, not a market trend. Always explore possible alternative explanations before accepting the conclusions.
Have the right strategic recommendations been made, based on the conclusions?
Even if the conclusions are correct, have the right strategic recommendations been made? If the market really is moving towards online shopping, that doesn’t make it automatically right that you set up an online shopping portal! Maybe there are partnership deals that would work better, or maybe you should launch online under a different brand name, while still offering your customers great deals. There are things in the online retailing market that can’t be ignored, like the fact that users tend to shop on those retail stores that offer the best deals. Always consider the alternatives before accepting a recommendation.
Next time a market research report lands on your desk, use these five questions to guide your thinking. You’ll be able to evaluate the report more critically and make better decisions for your brand as a result.