Sunday, May 18, 2014

Stop the DIY Madness & Stop Insulting Corporate Researchers


DIY is not synonymous with in-house research. Can I be any clearer?
I thought we put this to bed 5 years ago when “DIY panic” first the market research industry. But given some recent presentations and articles, it seems to be a hot topic again. As a 25-year veteran of the business, please allow me to illustrate how this topic is being incorrectly framed.

Market Research "Sides"

The market research world is often thought of as having a client-side (corporate research functions) and a supply-side (market research firms, especially full-service agencies).
Research done by corporate researchers is often excellent, sometimes not. Sometimes it is done by highly trained professionals with solid statistics, qualitative method or related skill sets. Sometimes it is done by people with “on-the-job” training.
Research done by market research firms is often excellent, sometimes not. Sometimes it is done by highly trained professionals with solid statistics, qualitative method or related skill sets. Sometimes it is done by people with “on-the-job” training.

The only difference is that in the corporate research world there was a time when a lot of corporate researchers outsourced much of their work. This was especially common, years ago, in the large CPG companies.  In these cases, the market research manager was pretty much a purchasing agent: they knew how to match internal clients’ needs with external supplier talents, they were skilled in negotiation, and they often participated at key project milestones (approving questionnaire drafts, for example).
In contrast, and totally separate, there is DIY research. DIY research is often done by people with little to no training, who typically do not work in market research—whether on the client or supplier side. At one company I know, the sales department has gone rogue a few times and had a college intern do some low-end surveys. The surveys were not particularly good. And the market research manager at the company was understandably not thrilled, for many, legitimate reasons. But that is the sales department doing DIY. Not the corporate researcher.

Among all corporate research work done, has the percent that is outsourced shrunk? Yes. But that is not the rise of DIY, it’s the rise of…well, call it insourcing if you want…I don’t really care. Just don’t insult our corporate research brethren by labeling them all DIY researchers. Actually, do. Insult them, antagonize them. I’m happy for the extra work.
And for those supply-side researchers who are ready to embrace change, kudos. I am with Isaiah Adams, who in a recent TMRE blog post, stated, “While this may sound like a depressing end-game, I believe it actually increases the value of knowledgeable Market Research professionals.” Mr. Adams is correct.

This post is by guest blogger Kathryn Korostoff of Research Rockstar LLC, the only independent provider of online market research training (Training.ResearchRockstar.com). Follow her on Twitter @ResearchRocks.  She is also offering a free training class to her new FOCI friends.

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