Market Research Relative to Marketing Effectiveness

September 22, 2005

The Question 

ANA members were asked to share their views, issues, and concerns about how Market Research is used and/or misused in companies relative to marketing's effectiveness.

Leadership / Corporate Sponsorship

  • Marketing Research (MR) lacks a strong corporate sponsor. Changes are unlikely without the support of a senior executive within the organization.
  • More than a leader is needed to get a buy-in for MR. The entire organization must be supportive, including sales, vendors, etc.
  • Leadership decides which campaigns get executed, but they don't know that consumers constantly change. The top has a different view, with decisions based on old understandings or by projecting their personal views as those of customers.

The Role of Market Research

  • MR, rather than marketing, is asked for the company's voice of customer (VOC). This has forced MR to deliver the truth, which either doesn't exist or won't be well received.
  • The role of MR is much more than providing research. It is to provide insights to action. The insights can be delivered, but the pressure lies in applying the research and insight - the "action" may be part of another department or function.
  • MR provides insights to drive the company, not just a collection of facts and analyses. The information gathered must be used to take action.
  • MR is a balance of art and science. There isn't a cut and dry method to test. Not one sole method works, a mix is needed.
  • MR should not just feed the numbers, but understand what they mean to add value to the business.
  • Market researchers are storytellers - and must provide the full story including numbers, observations, analyses, interpretations, etc.
  • Positioning MR as "strategic consultants" is time consuming and won't allow MR to do research work.
  • MR has a strategic role. It is an investment to set the strategy for the next few years.
  • ROI - MR has become to the proxy for ROI.
  • A single model will not work for all industries.
  • Internal MR departments look bad when agencies and media companies conduct independent research with results that differs from the results generated internally. A disconnect exists with the agencies...they sometimes repeat work already done without knowing it.
  • MR is asked to lead a transformation based on consumer insights. This can't happen without the proper tools, organization, help of agencies and vendors, and communications (researchers tend to tell too much).
  • Customers versus consumers. Retailers are customers also and must also be talked to.
  • Different skill sets are needed now - besides analytical and business skills, managers also need creativity.


  • MR is perceived as a tactical, responsive mode rather than a strategic, proactive role. Limited resources and time allow this to continue...
  • All functions need to understand the basics of MR. Certain terms should have to be explained.
  • Other areas want more than one test to ensure the validity of research conducted. Multiple tests mean multiple work!
  • Issue: how to fit in with the marketing team. However, MR also has its own silos consisting of marketing research and consumer research, quantitative research and qualitative research. MR must integrate with marketing and be insight leaders, rather than holders of knowledge.
  • Gaining alignment with finance worked for a while, as MR was positioned as a marketing investment. Now finance is seeking ROI. CFOs have different mindsets - marketing budgets are always cut first and MR will go before media spend.
  • As the company grows, sales and marketing also grows which increases the number of people that MR must support. MR doesn't get an increase in headcount. There's never enough time to be proactive.
  • Marketing functions are in silos, and are evaluated disparately rather than in total for synergies.
  • To get true ROI, finance and marketing need alignment.
  • Silos within silos exist. MR can be part of marketing or part of advertising, PR, etc. The customer is not considered with such disparity it organizational structures.
  • Attracting and retaining staff is the toughest challenge. There are employees that are savvy and book smart, but weak in business skills and reality, or vice-versa. A truly blended team is hard to achieve.

A Seat at the Table

  • One member has a seat at the table. In fact, MR is setting the table by helping to develop the strategic agenda for marketing.
  • A seat at the table is desirable, but are there enough resources to devote time to strategy building and does our MR group have the skills to participate?
  • MR will be reliable and have a seat at the table if they are perceived as storytellers.
  • One member had a seat at the table and backed away due to a lack of resources - there weren't enough people to do the research work. Although MR was invited to the table, additional resources were not provided to the MR team.


  • Certain products, such as insurance, are intangible. It is challenging to conduct MR on such products/services.
  • Pertinent information is better than none...sometimes.

"Market Research Relative to Marketing Effectiveness." Mark Lang, Director, Marketing & Research, Publix Super Markets, Inc. ANA Advertising & Marketing Research Committee, 09/22/05.