Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Formulas for (Market Research) Success

On Day 1 of FOCI, two of my favorite speakers shared formulas for describing important concepts. Are formulas always perfect? No. But they do give us a fresh way think about some complex issues. And these formulas may even help us to be inspired by this conference's tag line, "Think Harder."
Formula for Thinking Harder #1

Bill Grizack, Executive Director at Egg Strategy, gave us a formula for understanding how to help new ideas succeed. As Bill described it, “Ideas have mass and velocity. And if an idea has enough mass and velocity, it has momentum."  Applying the classic physics formula Mass x Velocity = Momentum.
As I listened, I couldn’t help but think that this applies to us market researchers in two ways:
·       It applies to how we think about product concept testing. In these projects we are often seeking to prioritize product attributes or gauge overall alignment with market needs. But listening to Bill, it seems like part of the process should also include uncovering attitudes or behaviors that might help an idea have “mass” and “velocity.”  Can we think about how to structure research to uncover likely mass and velocity factors? Could this broaden current thinking which often focusses on “demand drivers and deterrents”?

·       It applies to market research itself.  It often seems like we have a lot of great ideas for market research innovation, and that they have big mass, but not enough velocity…and thus no real momentum.  How can we think about the velocity part of the equation to help us finally get momentum on some of these ideas? Or at least to understand which of the many ideas are likely to succeed based on existing “velocity” indicators?

Formula for Thinking Harder #2
Our opening night keynote speaker, Nir Eyal of NirandFar.com, shared his formula for changing behavior. Nir stated, “If we have sufficient motivation and sufficient ability AND you have a trigger, the behavior should occur.” He summarized this with the formula: Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Trigger (which he attributed to BJ Fogg).

Now while he didn’t specifically connect this to market research, I think this also gives us a framework to think about product concept testing research. We often struggle when researching products that are revolutionary (versus evolutionary). We researchers know very well that you can’t get good insights by asking people for direct feedback on radically new product concepts: it tends to be too hypothetical. Sure we can use research to identify potential drivers and deterrents for radical product ideas, but it’s risky.

But what if we used Nir’s angle? When researching revolutionary products, we could structure parts of the research to discover potential motivations, abilities and triggers of interest. It would still be a bit hypothetical, but the idea of using a framework consisting of three distinct components appeals to me. We could even go as far as asking the customers (people from the likely target market) to help us brainstorm motivations, abilities and triggers—now that is a project I would like to try!

What About You?
I wonder what formulas market researchers could come up with. What’s the formula for project success? What’s the formula for panel quality? Or for executive satisfaction with research insights? If you want to propose any, let us know using the comments below.

This post was written by Kathryn Korostoff. Kathryn is currently the President of Research Rockstar, the only independent company dedicated to market research training (online and in-person).  Prior to Research Rockstar, Kathryn completed the transition of Sage Research—an agency that she led for 13 years—to its new parent company, Chadwick Martin Bailey. Over the past 25 years, she has directed more than 600 primary market research projects and published over 100 bylined articles in various magazines, including Quirk’s Marketing Research Review and the MRA’s Alert! Magazine. She also currently serves as President for the MRA’s New England chapter;
Contact Information: KKorostoff@ResearchRockstar.com, 508.691.6004 ext 705, @ResearchRocks

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