Becoming a research partner: help them going in-house
So you may be thinking helping clients moving their research in-house equals pointing them to a competitor. On the contrary, you can benefit greatly from this move as we’ll explain in this blog. It’s the first in a series of 5 about new opportunities for insight firms.
Opportunity 1: Clients are taking research in-house
Why are clients taking this step?
In recent years, an increasing number of clients have been taking research in-house. There are several reasons for this trend.
Firstly, market research is becoming increasingly accessible and affordable as new technologies and platforms emerge. This has made it easier for companies to consider conducting research without external support. They see it as a core competency that should be explored or done by their employees, provided they can attract and hire insight professionals.
Secondly, there’s been a growing recognition of the value of market research toolkit. Differentiating your brand or product in today’s market is more challenging than ever. It doesn’t even matter if you operate in B2C or B2B. So market research is increasingly seen as a way to find and address their customers’ pains and translate them into better product and marketing messaging.
Thirdly, insight firms are outsiders and clients may want to promote from within the company. The reason being that experienced employees may understand the products, services or markets better.
Lastly, there’s cost control. Whenever a client faces some type of crisis, merger or pivot, agencies are usually the first to be cut loose in the latest cost-cutting efforts. Yes, this depends on the market, the type and size of the company and how it is funded. But we live in a volatile world and things can change quite suddenly.
How can we use this opportunity to our benefit?
Although it may sound like a smart thing to do for a client, taking market research in-house comes with many challenges. First of all, there’s usually hardly any internal knowledge of market research, let alone an internal culture around it.
So they’ll have the choice to hire experienced (and expensive) insight professionals or find a few juniors and let them learn on the go. The first choice hampers with cost control, the second with the quality of the insights they can extract and thus the ROI of said hire.
The internal culture around it is critical too. The bigger the client, the harder employees and departments must fight for attention and budget. No culture around research means you’re not top of mind when vital decisions are made.
It takes a good while for this to take hold and requires constant sponsoring by influential stakeholders inside the company. It may all come crashing down when such a stakeholder leaves the company. Pet projects by ‘leavers’ are usually the first ones to be put on hold as newcomers want to be seen as bringing change.
Your opportunity in this scenario is being a training and expertise partner.
You can work out a few playbooks for your most profitable clients about how you can set up an internal research department, grow it and keep it in the spotlight.
You can offer these as stand-alone playbooks or with implementation support by your experts.
Next, you can develop self-certified training courses for different experience levels. Offer them as stand-alone or with support from your experts. This may include pairing a junior with an expert they can go to for on-the-job advice.
Your firm can also organize (virtual) events aimed at the company’s leadership and stakeholders. This way, you can help internal sponsors to keep their efforts in the spotlight.
By becoming such an integral partner for the company, you’re harder to cut loose should anything trigger an internal crisis.
Keeping up with the Joneses
Let’s take a few steps back and explore why this is important.
It’s no secret that the market is changing – it always is – but the rate at which new trends and technologies are replacing old ones doesn’t only seem to become faster. It actually is getting faster. And it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Take the tools in the research space, for example. Insight firms can choose between an ever-expanding set of too many tools and platforms to mention in various forms and guises. Whether you’re looking for tools to help you do qualitative or quantitative research, there’s always one seemingly better suited for your particular needs.
The trouble is which one do you choose? Because they all have their pros and cons and some come with caveats that aren’t immediately clear when you purchase them.
Digging through the feature lists, comparing and validating them via reviews has become an industry in itself over the years, with the likes of G2, Capterra and Gartner dominating the space. But even then, it still is hard to pick one. And once you think you’ve found the one, up pops another where the proverbial grass is even greener.
And it’s not just about keeping up with the tools. Insight professionals themselves have to keep up with new research tactics and methods. Not to mention coping with the sheer volume of data to be processed.
Because there’s more data around than ever before and with every passing nanosecond, we’re adding even more. And the kicker is, according to Statista https://www.statista.com/statistics/617136/digital-population-worldwide/ a whopping 37% of the world’s population isn’t even online yet as of April 2022. So there’s still a lot more data to come.