A symbiotic relationship exists between the consumers and practitioners of marketing research, especially when the research project is a proprietary study. If you have every asked for a quote on a large primary research study you know this work can be expensive. Therefore, a best practice approach to market research involves the creation of a win-win for the buyer and seller of this highly customized work. This article and Maximize Your Market Research ROI (working title of a forthcoming book) are written for two audiences: The people who have to manage market research firms, that is, those who buy and use market research and the market research firms who provide market research services.
When the idea for this approach was first presented to colleagues of mine, they asked an important question. How can you write about market research and address both audiences equally, don’t they have different interests and agendas? It is a very good question and the quick first answer is yes they do often have different agendas.
However, there in lies the problem or perhaps an opportunity. Too often, we only look at buyers and sellers from the point of view of having agendas – getting the best deal versus making the most profit. Of course, we all want a good or better yet a great deal and all businesses need to make profits.
The rationale for writing to address both audiences is that (in my opinion), these are two sides of the same coin and would be well advised to better align themselves, especially in slow economic periods to provide the best approach in support of economic growth. The objective is to discuss the wants and needs of market research clients’ alongside the requirements of professional research firms to address openly how both buyers and sellers can work together more effectively.
Do the needs of buyers and sellers ever perfectly align? Probably not, the needs of buyers and sellers are likely to move in directions that are not parallel. However, the idea of giving guidance to one group in the pursuit of gaining an advantage over the other suggests there are stronger differences than similarities between the objectives of market research sellers and buyers; and I don’t believe that’s true. It seems illogical; it simply makes no sense.
Like all buying and selling arrangements, there is a symbiosis involved and for buyers and sellers of marketing research, especially proprietary primary market research, the symbiotic relationship is very strong. Certainly, the relationship required is stronger than between a company buying a new copier machine and the retailer selling copiers or between a company purchasing a new company car and the dealership selling it.
The reason is that buyers and sellers of proprietary research must forge a relationship that transcends the simple exchange of goods and services for money. The relationship must be elevated to a partnership.
Good research, and certainly excellent research, requires a partnership between buyer and seller. It is this partnership, which is the focus of the best practice approaches I believe we should strive to achieve.
If we step back to look at the research process milestones, examine the roles each party must play to achieve the best possible results at each step, and then act on those roles everyone wins. Moreover, companies on both sides of the market research coin that share this perspective will win more often than those that do not.