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Insights Explain the “What” – But Marketers Also Need the “Now What”

by | Jun 23, 2023 | Uncategorized

Marketers are busy, and no wonder. Their job hasn’t gotten any easier. With the increasing velocity of change and the hyper-complexity of their deliverables, they’re lucky if they find time to have lunch on most days.

Meanwhile, with the introduction of new brand promises and experiences, their customers’ expectations are evolving at breakneck speed. Not only do marketers need to deal with competition that didn’t exist a year ago but must now learn to preempt new threats by innovating ahead of the curve.

A few years ago, most marketers would have turned to market research for guidance. But that is no longer true. That’s because the market research industry continues to deliver “insights.” The “what.”

Don’t get me wrong – delivering insights is the legacy paradigm and expectation of any research provider. However, that is no longer enough. In this new world, the Insight Economy™, marketers need more.

They need the “So What” and the “Now What”

Put differently, market researchers need to translate insights into clear, actionable outcomes and plans for marketers.

That means helping a client make a “go/no go” decision.

It means helping them achieve buy-in with their stakeholders… internal and external.

It means identifying not only where a client can have a real competitive advantage but also providing practical advice on the kind of investment, strategic changes, and operational commitment they’ll need to get there.

Let’s look at an example.

A leading omnichannel provider of lease-purchase solutions (RTO), needed to combat decreasing traffic and declining revenues with a new concept store. Like many retail clients, they needed to move fast to take advantage of seasonality. When they came to us, they wanted the new store in the market in six months. They also wanted to start with a market mapping and segmentation exercise—a prudent approach—but one that would require at least six months before any results could provide actionable insights for the new store. We had to think differently.

Given the aggressive timeline, the natural place to start was to look at what they already knew. Luckily there was a lot of proprietary research, BI, and customer insights, so much, in fact, it would have been perfectly natural to fall into an “analysis-paralysis” trap. But, like great investigators, we had clues about where to look because we’ve seen this situation countless times. Our multidisciplinary team (brand strategists, retail experts, analysts, digital forensics and social scientists) synthesized the company’s research and layered on syndicated and social data to connect the dots.

But it never hurts to have a little backup. So, we put AI on the case and ran text analytics to comb the depths, details, and connections embedded in the wealth of words and phrases. This enabled us to quickly find the key ingredients, a high IQ method that opened the doors to inject a compelling EQ into its approach. In no time we revealed the story of a socioeconomically challenged customer for which the legacy RTO industry had zero empathy.

They’re living a hard life that gets harder with a broken refrigerator or stove for which they have no cash or credit to pay. Sadly, legacy RTO takes a “you need us more than we need you” posture, making a hard life even harder with invasive background checks and sketchy merchandise (take it or leave it). Fact is that people were finding alternative ways to get things in more “dignified” ways, so the old rules needed to change to fit the new environment. These simple yet incisive insights led to a strategy that brought the new concept store to life—all within a four-week period and no new research.
The new concept store opened eight months after we launched the strategy. The store outperformed the legacy operation by strong double-digit growth as well as beating its hurdle for ROIC. Additionally, the new model was rolled out to multi-unit program in late 2018.
“The ability to synthesize the myriad and disparate data into an actionable business plan was the key to this methodology. It clearly identified the critical audience need gaps and aligned them to executable strategies within the various disciplines (merchandising, operations, real estate, marketing, etc.) which drove this new business model to unexpectedly high levels of growth. – CMO

Delivering the “Now What” is today’s critical imperative

Collecting data and turning that data into insights is at the core of what market researchers do. But to be relevant in today’s world, we must go further. We must throw away the outdated rules and embrace change. Begin with what we know. Do research only if it provides incremental value. Find answers that will move people and change their behavior. Focus on solving the case with airtight evidence and a compelling narrative.

All with one goal. To provide clients with the ability to act and win in the marketplace.