big data word cloud with related tags

In the previous and first post from the short series of blog posts focused on market research, I have tried to answer the question: ‘Is market research an obsolete discipline or is it just evolving and can still be relevant for the purposes of an effective marketing strategy?”.

I gradually came to the conclusion that what we used to call market research probably doesn’t exist anymore, mainly in terms of methodologies used to collect data and information.Why should companies invest in surveys, focus groups and interviews when there is a huge amount of data (Big Data) they can collect digitally? On the other side, is the information provided through Big Data enough? Or can market research still be used to analyse data and tell us more?

Big Data has huge potential to reveal hidden insights, but it can’t reveal everything:

  • Big Data isn’t always available or doesn’t always relate to the issue of interest
  • Big Data tells us what, but not usually why (e.g. what is behind and what influences customer behaviour, the decision making processes and motivations)
  • Big Data can’t fully explore hypothetical situations.  For example, what untapped needs are there in the market?  What do customers think about new product concepts?

The last point is particularly relevant for the tech industry. Take the example of three technology companies that dominated the markets for years but were then wiped out by disruptive technologies they didn’t see coming:

  • Nokia: At its peak in 2010, it had $74.56B in revenue. In 2014, it recorded $13.4B
  • Kodak: At its peak in 1996, it had $16B in revenue. In 2012, it filed for bankruptcy
  • Blackberry: At its peak in 2011, it had $20.59B in revenue. In 2015 it is $3.3B.

It is not sufficient to collect data. Understand it and, through that exercise, anticipating customers needs is vital to prevent situations such as those above.

Big Data and market research should be considered as complementary to each other – the right combination of new and old tools to collect and analyse information from customers can open a world of opportunities for companies to understand them better and satisfy their needs.

In the next blog post, an overview on the right balance between old and new methodologies and a look at new tools…