Guest post by Don Gregory, president, OnTarget Research

If hearing the voice of the customer through market research and using that insight to help drive and measure business success is so important, why are an increasing number of business leaders turning away from using the tool as they once did.

The answer is simple, market research isn’t providing the value and insight it once did. There are many reasons for this but here are three that are near the top of the list.

1. The right questions aren’t being asked
In fact, market research questions have become increasingly lazy over time. For market research to deliver lasting value, the areas of investigation and questions asked must reflect an intimate understanding of the marketplace, its complexities and the mindset of the customer. Healthy debate about what questions to ask must be held with key stakeholders to bring clarity to the issues that need to be understood. Once completed, extreme care must be taken to write and sequence questions to provide the insight that is desired.

2. People forget that there must be a rhythm to market research
We have all sat in planning meetings where someone says “we need to do some market research before we move forward”. The research is fielded, analyzed and insights are gleaned. Unfortunately the research effort ends there. The problem arises with this strategy when there are shifts in the market or new competitors or products enter into it. Old research can’t answer new questions. There must be a sustained rhythm to market research to continuously measure shifts in the market. Doing so can not only address new questions and concerns but it can even help leaders look to the future and proactively respond to what they are seeing.

3. People want to fight with what the research is telling them
Especially when they don’t like the answers they are getting. Surprisingly, fighting for turf and defending previous business decisions becomes more important than listening to what customers are saying. It is refreshing and extremely powerful when leaders work hard to understand what customers are telling them and digest that insight to improve their performance. Fighting against customers has never proved successful. Listening to and embracing their input has!