It’s Not a Research Problem — It’s a Business Problem

creativity-problem-solving I find it hard to believe that any business owner wakes up and says “I think we need an awareness and perception study to understand the drivers of preference for our brand.” Rather, they probably are wondering what their customers think of their products and how they can increase sales. See the difference? The first is looking at the world from a research POV, while the other is stating a business problem–a common one at that.

But, we as researchers, can get quite hung up on being statistically accurate when we design research studies, rather than taking a step back and putting on our business hats. Case in point: I worked for a market research firm that designed a pricing study for a major software company with three (yes, count them, three!) models–including a conjoint (which everyone who knows me, knows that just the term ‘conjoint’ makes the hair stand up on my neck).

While the head of research was a super-smart, PhD-type guy, he didn’t think for a moment that the business model of selling software is on a negotiated basis through a third-party (referred to as Value-Added Resellers-VARs). So, overkill was the word of the day for that project. Had the firm stepped back and thought about the business problem of what to charge for a software package, it could have been a simple triangulation of (1) secondary research (what do competitors charge for similar products), (2) how much do VARs think the software is worth, (3) how important is this piece of software in the customers’ overall IT strategy.

So, as researchers, let’s put on our business hats first!


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