Monday, July 30, 2012

Are We Leaping Ahead? Or Running in Place?

Bob Beamon breaking the long-jump record
at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City –
this record remains unchallenged today.
“Which records will get shattered?” writes Nate Silver, sports analyst, in the New York Times.  Good question.  His argument is based on sports, of course, and he argues that sports like Swimming have shown the most statistical progress over time versus something like Short Distance Running.  That’s because Swimming has benefitted from technology: better swim suits, less turbulent pools, etc.  And that Running is something anyone, anywhere in the world can do versus Swimming where you need a pool you probably don’t have in, let’s say, Somalia. Good points, both.

Why should you care?

Two reasons: 1) new developments in the field of Market Research have been almost exclusively technology-based; and 2) for every trend there is a counter trend.

While our development of new techniques is headed quickly and staunchly down the technology road with Big Data, Mobile and Modeling leading the way, we should see great progress on the part of our clients.  I expect record-breaking accomplishment.  While this may be the case, it’s hampered somewhat by the fact that my clients have trouble communicating or even internalizing the output of such complex solutions to what they perceive as simple requests.  AND the accomplishments are of diminishing size, just like breaking world records, forcing some clients to ask – “Do I really need this much elegance in a solution for such small gains in the market?”  Good question.

Which brings me to counter trends.  This is highly observable in life all around you.  For every person blogging on their mobile you have a person learning to knit.  Maybe it’s not 1:1 – often the counter trends are smaller.  But it’s undeniable that for every Hummer there is a Mini.  For every Burger King there is a slow food alternative kitchen. Again not 1:1 but you get the point.

What are we developing on the slow side, the less technology-based side?  What have you done to help your clients come to simple solutions to questions that set new records by increment?  Maybe… just maybe, it’s the combination of slow and fast, simple and technical that breaks the boundaries and sets the new records by a mother load.   I’ll be on the lookout for this type of new thinking at TMRE 2012 in November.  

What is the crisp new thinking that takes us beyond the technology and into the realm of record-breaking accomplishment?

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Today's guest post is from Kelley Styring. Styring is principal of InsightFarm Inc. a market research and consumer strategy consulting firm. She has led insights for Procter & Gamble, Pepsico, Black & Decker and NASA prior to founding her own firm in 2003. Kelley is a published author and has been featured in USA Today, ABC News, Good Morning America, Brandweek, Fortune, Quirk's Marketing Research and The Market Research Daily Report from RFL Online.  She will be live blogging from The Market Research Event 2012 this November 12-14 in Boca Raton, Florida.  If you'd like to join her, register today and mention code TMRE12BLOG to save 15% off the standard rate!

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