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Is The Market Research Industry Like Choosing Between McDonald’s & Harrods?

Written by Jake Pryszlak

On February 17, 2020

Technological developments, economic power changes, population change, environmental pressures and evolving consumer values underpin disruptions in the market research industry, oh and let’s not forget Brexit!

The market research industry

In 2019, a lot happened in the market research industry from Survey Monkey joining the stock market and other acquisitions made by Nielsen and recently between Medallia and LivingLens

We as market researchers are more pressed than ever to deliver accurate, insightful solutions for clients with shorter turnaround times and smaller budgets to some extent. Yet, clients who pay less still expect a premium/high quality service to be delivered.

With so many acquisitions and changes in the market research industry, does this mean its value is divided between McDonalds and Harrods?

The divide between McDonalds and Harrods

One side of the fence we have McDonalds offering a cheap and affordable offer, low interaction with the outside world, could be ordered online and picked up. On the other side we have Harrods who are offering a premium version with all of the bells and whistles from a strategy meeting to actually understanding what the research is underpinning in terms of strategies and next steps, they are all hands on with the methodology design and also the analysis. To top it off, you get a person interacting with you all the way through the process, even when sharing the results.

By the way, I am not calling organisations like Zappi, plotto + others ‘cheap’, I am demonstrating that organisations like these offer something to market researchers and day to day entrepreneurs on a platter. Their services are on a plate for someone to pick from. Its clear from their websites what you are ordering and what the overall result will look like. Very similar to a fast food chain.

By having so many different organisations in the sector offering alternatives, how does this impact the market research industry?

The GRIT report is a good starting point

If you look in various GRIT reports the main two challenges market researchers face consistently is:

  • Providing clients with impactful reports that provide value and tell a cohesive story, with a consultative edge to it.
  • The introduction of technology is fantastic but then comes errors because of the amount of different companies in the sector.

Are we helping our Insight friends in the industry to improve?

I always say to everyone I speak to about the market research industry that we are only as good as our weakest organisation or/and person. One poor report or sub-par market research solution then people remember it. People just like me and you, find it difficult to remember good things but we highlight the bad quickly.

When debating between the MacDonald’s of this world and Harrods, the most important question to answer is how are you going to receive or conduct high-value market research?

Then your intermediate question also becomes: What are you trying to find out from your market research?

This is the question that you need to ask yourself at the very beginning, before you’ve conducted any telephone interviews, spoken to any existing customers, or mined the web for statistics.

The two questions:

  • How are you going to receive or conduct high-value market research?
  • What are you trying to find out from your market research?


Should you be conducting market research?

Are part of a number of questions you should be asking yourself before contacting an agency or even diving into whether you should be conducting market research in the first place. This is something that I wrote about recently and you can find my top tips here!

This is essential, everyone needs to define your research objectives if you are to end up with meaningful data that you can actually use to inform something.

Lets face it, there is never enough time in business. Market research and data on the other hand piles up relentlessly; as if there are separate rules for both.

You might have read the MarTechNews article, Debra Bass, President of JNJ, who suggested that marketers are suffering from what she called “InfoObesity”

Basically we are gorging on an in consumable amount of numbers that is not just unwieldy but can become dysfunctional.

In todays world we are working with too much data and not enough understanding!

When conducting market research should you trade speed / Cost / or quality?

Making trade-offs is a mandatory part of life however when specifically thinking about market research and Insight, our discipline of delivering the best possible solution to the problem, as defined, within the constraints set.

The answer is actually easy because we need to focus on quality more than anything. Therefore the teams that focused on quality are the ones that gained speed.

To round things off

While it seems counterintuitive, personal experience and years of research agree: cost reduction comes from speed; speed comes from confidence; confidence comes from quality. Rinse, repeat, profit.

So does this debate even matter?
I think it’s a personal debate and it depends on your experiences in the market research industry as well as what is going on in the world.

In our industry of market research and data, do we ever actually conduct our own market research into our customers to understand what they think of it?

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  1. Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! 🙂

  2. A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment.

    I believe that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but
    generally folks don’t speak about such issues.

    To the next! Many thanks!!

    • Hope you enjoyed the read Ruth!


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