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Research: Art or a science?

Written by Jake Pryszlak

On August 12, 2018


Is research an art or a science?

I am an award-winning market research blogger and speaker. My personal brand and blog have grown and grown and taken me to places all over the world to mentor, educate and teach others about market research and Insight. Through Twitter and my blog, you can find out my latest thoughts about the sector.

Is research an art or a science?

It’s a question I get asked on social media and by email. Research is changing and one of the reasons for this change is technology. In the mist of technology and more so automation. The underlining reason to conduct research still exists. With more job descriptions including data science and visualisation. You now hear more and more people argue both sides of the coin.

This blog post will discuss and further develop an earlier blog post related to technology. Is research is an art or a science?

Find out below!


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Is Research an art?

One of the biggest areas of work for any research department is understanding the behaviours of consumers.

  • How they live their lives?
  • How and why they shop?

When collecting data and information, it is then articulated into buyer personas/segments. Often translated into reports. That may reflect the data such as satisfaction and recommendation scales. The result and something missing is the articulation to individuals on the ground. This is one of the many reasons why market research sits under a marketing umbrella.

Remember, market research as an art.

The marketing team will use the data and information provided to them. Using no science but assumptions and feel factor. Marketers will then work hard to create data-driven marketing campaigns. To reach a specific target audience identified by the market research.

However, this can cause problems as well, because, marketers want information they can use. They may even want to use figures to put into a marketing campaign. So, you have a dreaded question that goes like.

‘Can you try and find a figure that says this please…?’

Also, it depends on who you are as a researcher?

Like I have mentioned in a previous blog post, there are many researchers in a cluttered market who work the same way.

Finally, if you use market research as an art, how can you provide a return-on-investment for your work?

A tricky question for sure.

I came up with 5 top tips to help you create a return-on-investment formula.

If you would like an overview of return-on-investment I would recommend taking a look at an Entrepreneur article.

Is Research a science?

Through data science comes creativity and analytics. This all plays an important role in market research and how it will adapt as time goes on. There are now more roles that need an analytical background or roles that relate to data science.

Data science doesn’t have to take place after each project, but it can be used to analyse past and current data. You see brands and supermarkets using current and old data. To understand changes in the consumer’s mindset.

You may be thinking what is data science?

It’s a concept that helps to tackle/analyse big data which could include data cleaning, preparation and analysis. All which could be gathered from many sources.

The lines are blurred somewhat when thinking whether market research is an art or a science…

If you are thinking of joining the science game, there are 8 skills UDACITY recommends you have.

Have you got all 8?

Is there a balancing act with research: art or science?

You might have been expecting it but, it depends on the situation you are in. Market research is an art and a science. For research to become an important asset for any organisation. It must use both art and science to succeed.

To become a high performing team, you must have a mixture of skill-sets. Including those who can perform art and data science.

I provided my thoughts on how to create a high-performing team here. It includes plenty of useful top tips for you.

Without numbers and general comments from consumers. Marketing strategies won’t work. No research department should hold either higher than the other. Research is a process of using both art and science.

How does your research department or team work?

It doesn’t matter if your organisation is both or focused on one area. The most important aspect is you. Therefore, it pays to break the rules in life to create a personal brand in market research. I wrote a blog post on this exact topic as well as more here!

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