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Cure for the “That’s interesting data, but what do I do with it?” Market Research Syndrome

As the saying goes, I’d be rich if I got a nickel for every time someone said “That’s interesting data, but what do I do with it?”  The problem isn’t with the data, after all it’s interesting, but how to put that data to use, to make it actionable in business.  Being a professional market researcher, I’ve pondered this question for years.  It represents an innovation opportunity for me and Unity Marketing.

People have no lack of descriptive market research that tells them about their customers, how they buy, and what they want.  In fact, businesses today are overwhelmed with too much data.  What they need is more prescriptive market research that guides them into the future and how to shape that future profitably for their businesses.

Businesses don’t need more research that looks in the rear-view mirror and that tells them about what customers did in the past, the traditional market research approach.  Back 30 years ago when I started in this profession, past consumer behavior was most often the best predictor of future behavior.  So the research industry’s traditional look in the rear-view mirror gave direction for looking ahead.  But that clearly isn’t the case anymore.

Consumer behavior today is changing at warp speed.  Who could have imagined just a few years ago the inroads that mobile phones would have on the shopping behavior of customers?  Or that sales of electronic shopping would reach nearly 75% of that in general merchandise stores, including department stores, discount stores and all the others?

Who foresaw all the new emerging ‘disruptive’ companies that have decimated so many established industries with new ways to purchase or new product concepts unimaginable only five years ago?  And who would have imagined that would be selling all the products it does today and in so many different ways?  Jeff Bezos, yes, but probably nobody else.

Yet while consumers’ shopping and buying behavior is in constant motion, there is one thing about people that remains remarkably stable over time:  their mindset and motivations as consumers.  Unlike purchase behavior, which can change on a dime, consumers’ underlying psychology is their set point.  It characterizes their basic consumer motivations and drives regardless of how other factors (e.g. age, income, spending and purchases) change.

A spend-thrift consumer tends to always be a spend thrift unless they make concerted efforts to change their behavior.  A penny-pincher tends to remain a penny-pincher, regardless of whether they accumulate a lot of money or not.  Just look at Warren Buffett, who is renowned for his thrifty personal lifestyle.

Ways to deliver more prescriptive research and make it actionable

In an effort to deliver more prescriptive research that can help businesses look forward to the opportunities ahead, Unity Marketing’s research will focus on the psychology of the consumer, with less emphasis on their behaviors in the past.  That’s why I am working to bring important understandings about the HENRYs (high-earners-not-rich-yet) consumer segment to you.

  • More consumer psychology

The HENRYs are the consumers on the road to affluence and the future customer for all businesses, but most especially the luxury brands.  Making a connection with HENRYs today is vital for brands’ tomorrows.

While so many companies are fixated on social media and cutting-edge marketing tactics as the way to attract these customers, of much greater strategic importance is understanding the HENRYs underlying consumer psychology and how they view themselves in their consuming lifestyle.  The fact that so many pure-play internet brands, like Wayfair, Trivago, AirBnB, Birch Box, Priceline, Warby Parker, and even Amazon, have to resort to traditional television advertising and store-based retail to draw traffic and make meaningful connections reveals the shortcomings of relying solely on  social media and internet-driven marketing tactics.

  • More succinct books and trend reports to make insights accessible

As I have watched the sales of UM’s syndicated, multi-client market research studies stall, I’ve turned my focus on publishing succinct, impactful books and trend reports that deliver actionable insights, rather than page after page of descriptive data charts, tables and graphs.  For example, with the release of Home for HENRYs, I am launching a HENRY book series focused on specific vertical market segments, like travel, jewelry, fashion and more.

  • More group presentations to share insights with teams efficiently

Companies need to get their entire team up to speed on new market opportunities and consumer segments, but can’t afford to have everybody spend hours reading a research report or book.  They need a quick, easy, efficient way to pollinate their teams with fresh insights and understandings.  That’s where custom meeting presentations come into play.

While I speak frequently at big meetings and conferences, like the recent NRF Retail Big Show, more clients need custom meeting presentations that give their teams a deep dive into a particular subject in the morning, so they can put those new insights to work that afternoon.

For example our new State of Luxury 2017 study provides powerful insights into the future of the luxury market based upon the perspective of industry insiders.  Think how powerful giving your team a peer-to-peer understanding of the evolving luxury market can be to develop new industry-leading, competitive strategies?

  • More exclusive research for competitive advantage through deep consumer insights

And as my clients discover the powerful competitive advantage that exclusive research information delivers, my direction is to work more closely with individual companies to understand the psychological underpinnings of their existing and target customers.  Such actionable insights can only be delivered on a custom basis.  And frankly I have a lot more fun and get more personal satisfaction when I can work more closely with a client to solve their specific marketing challenges.  I especially enjoy working with small-and-mid-sized businesses where my big-company research experience can be profitably and effectively applied.

These are is my innovation opportunities to solve unmet client business needs with a market research to help them understand, deeply and truly understand, their customers and develop marketing strategies to deliver against those needs.  I look forward to working together to make that happen for your business.

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