There is a lot of talk among marketing researchers that DIY research is bad for the industry. I, for one, am not convinced.
I understand the fear among research suppliers that DIY will cut into their business. I also understand that, in the wrong hands, DIY research can result in inaccurate, misleading data and also alienate respondents through over-surveying.
But it seems to me that the research tools and techniques now available (both DIY and custom) are allowing more firms than ever to conduct some form of market research. And in the end, isn’t that a good thing?
In my view, the more companies gain access to – and see the value of – marketing research data, the more money they will eventually spend on research.
I’ve seen this exact situation firsthand. An acquaintance of mine was recently promoted to the head of marketing for a multimillion-dollar international auto parts company. The firm – a family-owned, privately held entity – had never conducted market research. When my friend took the job, he quickly realized that the company needed to better understand its distributors, the auto-parts stores that sell its products and, of course, its customers.
Not having any real survey budget (or probably experience), he used SurveyMonkey and queried the company’s connections on Facebook and LinkedIn. It didn’t take him long to realize that the data he received back was flawed. But, he told me, it gave him a great thirst for more information. He took the data (imperfect though it was) and convinced the owner of the company to give him $20,000 to hire a data collection company to survey their clients.
In talking to him, I could already tell he wanted to go beyond simple surveys. He wanted to do tracking studies and measure marketing campaign effectiveness. It wouldn’t surprise me if, in a few years, this firm has an established research budget (assuming he and the supplier he chooses can show ROI on the surveys). And it will have all started because they were able to do research themselves at a low cost.
I imagine this scenario (perhaps on a smaller scale) is now playing out at a lot of small to mid-size firms. It presents a challenge for marketing research suppliers, one that requires them to adapt and change. After all, when data-gathering becomes something that anyone can do – when research companies can no longer charge a premium for it – what’s left?
Analysis and expertise. Those things, rather than collecting responses, are worth paying for.