While they both focus on deeply understanding business issues, in the past market research and analytics were viewed as distinctly separate functions.
That is, market research concerned itself with brand and product/service issues, and gathered data directly from customers (both prospective and current). Of course, this is not to suggest that researchers did not analyze their data. For decades, teams have filtered and calculated data in different ways based on demographics, buyer personas, geographic factors, spending habits, seasonal dynamics, and so on. However, the data they analyzed derived from external sources.
On the other hand, traditional business analytics primarily focused on gleaning insights from existing sales data (vs. externally gathered data), in order to develop profitable sales tactics and strategies. For example, analytics was used to calculate the value of a product line, and justify whether it made sense to invest/not invest in further development. As such, the data used for analytics derived from a database vs. directly from prospects and customers.
Today, these divisions still exist. That is, many businesses – and virtually all large organization and enterprises – still have separate market research and analytics departments, and each has its own mandates, workflows, responsibilities and budgets. However, there is an increasing appreciation that these two functions can, where appropriate, align, integrate and support each other, so that market research is even more valuable and versatile.
There are several reasons for this synergistic, and very positive convergence of market research and analytics. Among the largest and most important factors are:
- Advancements in database structures has made it MUCH more practical and cost-effective for market research teams to access metrics and scores, so they can derive business intelligence that solves market research problems vs. focuses on sales engineering issue.
- The internet has created a whole new world of SaaS (software-as-a-service) technology, which enables market research teams to analyze their collected data without having to make a substantial – and in some cases, prohibitive – capital cost investment.
- The internet (part 2) has made it much easier for various systems (through API calls and other integration tools) to “talk to each other,” and therefore enables automation that turns highly complex and time consuming manual processes into streamlined, automated ones.
- The internet (part 3) has made it possible for ecommerce businesses to map purchase data with online behavior (i.e. how many products a customer looked at, how long it took them to make a purchase, etc.), to generate powerful and profitable insights that were simply impossible in the pre-web era.
- The increasing proliferation of smartphones – especially among Millennials – has enabled market research teams to connect with study respondents and gather quantitative data (through surveys and SMS, etc.) and qualitative data (through interviews).
At the same time, the evolving role and synergy between market research and analytics has made the business landscape that much more competitive – because businesses that leverage what might be called “the next generation of market research + analytics” to improve customer satisfaction, brand awareness, market share, sales and profits, are SURGING past their competitors who still approach marketing research the old way; or even worse, do not rely on market research in any meaningful way at all.
To learn more about exploiting the full profit potential of market research and analytics in your business, contact the Communications For Research team and schedule a chat with our co-CEO Colson Steber.
While learning more about your business, Colson can give you feedback on your research goals and help you determine whether your business analytics can help inform market research and critical business decisions.
For more information on how to communicate the value of the market research to your clients, download our FREE eBook: