How to get the most out of your market research budget

This post is sponsored by Kadence International.

As businesses seek to understand and respond to changes in consumer behaviour brought about by the pandemic, market research is more important than ever before. But after a tough 2020, many marketers have to do it on declining budgets.

As market research consultants, Kadence is well-versed in helping marketers navigate this challenge, something that was recognised as part of Kadence International’s Consultant of the Year win at the Agency of the Year awards 2020.

We’ve built on this experience to develop a framework to help marketers maximise their research budget. In this article, we share the key highlights of this framework, but the full framework can be downloaded on the Kadence website.

AUDIT – Review and maximise your existing research

Many businesses are sitting on a treasure trove of data, so before commissioning a new project, consider what information you already have. Look back at the work your organisation has done to date, identify the gaps, and use this to sharpen the focus of your next project. 

Revisiting discussion guides and questionnaires is a quick way of auditing the kinds of information that might be lurking in past studies. Another option is to conduct a strategic review of the research you have commissioned to date. This, combined with ideation workshops, can bring new opportunities to light and align your team around an action plan to realise them. 

ALIGN – Ensure that as a team you have identified the objectives that matter most right now

Before embarking on a new piece of research, take a step back and consider what’s critical for your organisation to understand right now versus what’s nice to have. This may sound like an obvious starting point but too many businesses can get lost in “comfort research”, which whilst reassuring, does not provide strategically important, insightful findings.

One way of thinking about this is to consider what change you’re looking to affect in your organisation as a result of conducting the research. Focus on the projects and data points that will really make a difference and consider deferring anything that falls outside of this.

Stakeholder interviews can provide useful input here. By speaking to senior stakeholders up front, you can build a rich understanding of the challenges they’re facing and use this to shape your brief, ensuring that the insights you uncover will be meaningful and actionable. These sessions also help to generate interest and engagement in the project so by the time the debrief arrives your colleagues are already bought in and ready to take action.

CRAFT – Embrace an agile approach to research

Right now, brands are having to adapt to fast changing consumer behaviours and expectations. In this context, it’s worth rethinking how and when you approach research. Little and often is a good mantra to adopt at this time. This approach can create real value for organisations, as it allows you to test, learn and iterate as you go, capitalising on emerging trends and insights that you can use to steer your organisation in the right direction.

In the past year, we have re-run many previous surveys to look at how attitudes and trends have changed over the course of the year. This allows you to get a sense of how the market has changed and understand where to focus future research.

EXECUTE - Understand what work you can take in-house without comprising on quality and which projects are best left to specialist agency partners

As budget cuts hit, we’ve seen more and more teams taking research projects in-house. Before doing this, it’s vital to consider the skillsets of both your internal team and your agencies to understand how to best resource the work.

Conducting the fieldwork yourself, designing the research tools or undertaking the analysis on the data collected can all be really effective ways of reducing the cost of research but there’s obviously a trade-off involved. You’ll need to spend more time in the weeds of a project, and you’ll forego the experience and expertise of an external partner.

SOCIALISE – Empower your teams to take action

It’s easy to get drawn into assessing potential projects through the lens of out-of-pocket costs. Certainly, this is important, but it’s also useful to think about the potential impact too. How can you make the most of the research you are investing in, ensuring that it lives on, permeates throughout the business and inspires action in your stakeholders?

We have always been strong advocates of the importance of design and when you’re operating on a reduced budget this is more important than ever. By making results easy to understand through videos or infographics and sharing these with multiple departments you’re able to ensure that insight is put at the heart of decision-making, resulting in better products, services and marketing campaigns.

Another important tool to consider is workshops. These are invaluable way of bringing your team together to plan next steps, ensuring the insights go on to create change and deliver growth for your business. Of course, running workshops online is more challenging than it is face-to-face but there are a number of digital tools like Slido and Zoom breakout rooms that you can use to foster that sense of interactivity and collaboration that’s so important for an effective workshop.

Kadence International was named Consultant of the Year by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE at the Agency of the Year awards. Hear Philip Steggals, managing director of Kadence Singapore, discuss how we’ve acted as a consulting partner to our clients to help them succeed in the most challenging of years:

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#AOTYAwards spills: Kadence gets a gold star for its consultancy pivot