Finding value in unexpected market research insights

August 2, 2021

As researchers, we know some aspects of studies are out of our control. We never know how respondents will answer, and sometimes their insights don’t give us straightforward solutions or suggest changes to products or services that don’t seem feasible.

While you may not get the answers you originally set out to find, when you think creatively, all insights are valuable. Ultimately, the solutions aren’t always provided by respondents or in the research results. Even when the research process presents you with difficult situations, with the right partners, you can make the most of your findings.

Innovation takes... innovation

Good ideas for innovation aren’t always forthcoming from research participants. Respondents often cannot tell us what they want beyond what they already know, but it is possible to get actionable ideas from research. The way to drive innovation is to focus on consumer needs and then challenge your stakeholders to create concepts.

One approach we use during the innovation process is called a mass collaboration session. We recruit as many as a few hundred consumers for an hour-long moderated and gamified discussion that challenges them to consider problems and create solutions. We then analyze and quantify the results in terms of perceived importance and impact. However, after everything is said and done, the research team, in conjunction with the stakeholders, will need to decide how to move forward strategically.

Don't judge insights by their covers

Respondents focus and report on their unmet needs, but organizations have to weigh cost and resources when considering a solution. It’s easy to dismiss research findings that drive recommendations that don’t seem feasible, but embracing those insights as opportunities is what gives organizations an edge over their competition.

Imagine a research study for a retailer reveals that “variety” is the biggest driver of store choice when shopping a category. Physical space is an obvious limitation regarding the breadth of products a brick and mortar retailer can offer. Part of our job as research partners is to collaborate with stakeholders and brainstorm ways to solve the problem. If it’s difficult for us to create a solution, it’s probably difficult for competitors. If the need truly exists in the marketplace, innovation or disruption will eventually occur. Do you want the solution to come from your organization or a competitor?

Sometimes research begets research

Our researchers prioritize collaboration before, during, and after a study — and alignment before kicking off a project is crucial. Discussing the research goals, types of data needed, and obstacles to collecting it creates a holistic understanding of the business problem and objectives. When constraints of applying potential research findings are identified during the design phase, we need to decide between integrating them into the study design or allowing for the authentic voice of the customer to come through — regardless of anticipated constraints.

As a practical remedy, when allowing research results to creep beyond what we believe to be immediately feasible, we can introduce constraints in the activation phase to provide direction. If we capture consumer truths that conflict with feasibility, we will be more open to research findings that spur creative thinking.

Sometimes further research needs to be conducted. If a recommendation from the research results seems perplexing or unattainable, we can delve back into the research process and obtain more insight.

Embrace research findings as opportunities, not burdens

Insights have value, even when we don’t uncover what we expected. These situations may present challenges, but they can be overcome by a research team ready to pivot and think creatively about the process and findings.

At Bellomy, we serve our partners through the seamless integration of people, solutions, and technology. Our teams are ready to help navigate research challenges and provide the expertise, responsiveness, and quality needed to identify solutions to your business problems. Let’s discuss how we can help.

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