Comfort or Quality? The Pros and Cons of Traditional Market Research
Some things are strictly a matter of comfort: You don’t want the stress of finding a new job, so you stick with your old one. You can’t stand your neighborhood, but don’t want to navigate the new one. You don’t want to risk hating pastrami, so you always order turkey.
There’s a lot to be said for being comfortable, especially when comfort equates to logic and familiarity. But just because something is comfortable doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. Whether you’re at the deli or you’re gathering research data, it might be worth giving your methods a second look.
Traditional market research methods might make sense and feel comfortable, but until you weigh the advantages against the disadvantages, you could be missing out on better options. Comfortable methods definitely have their place, but you might be compromising quality with familiarity.
Why Traditional Market Research Still Works…
There’s a reason that surveys and polls have been used as market research touchstones for almost a full century: They work fairly well. Gathering data from traditional sources gets the job done, even if it’s not completely outstanding. Consider the reasons firms fall back onto traditional methods again and again:
· People get it. Surveys and polls are a known quantity. Those in the industry know how to ask the right question to assemble the necessary data, so it’s a comfortable, obvious way to mine thoughts and opinions.
· There are better benchmarks. Because surveys and polls have been used as market research resources for decades, there’s literally decades of data to compare results against.
· It’s easy to explain. Everyone knows what “In a recent survey…”means, so traditional methods make it easier for researchers to explain exactly how they got their results. It’s a simple process of survey, subject, and response that can be tailored for just about any topic.
Traditional market research seems like a no-brainer; they say that if it’s not broken, you shouldn’t fix it. Still, just because a method is adequate doesn’t mean progress should stop. This veers into the never ending debate on quantitative vs qualitative methodology.
…And Why It Doesn’t
Here’s where being comfortable with traditional market research could become a major disadvantage. By sticking to only one method, organizations miss out on the best quality data. Consider these drawbacks:
· It’s outdated. If users are progressing in the way they interact with technology and each other, shouldn’t research methods follow suit? We wrote about why landlines are inaccurate for market research in today’s world, as it has simply become outdated.
· Users are gaming the system. Survey farms, incentivizing survey completion, and even fake data can result in skewed results that are unpredictable. What’s more, participants sometimes simply tell survey-takers what they want to hear, so answers are heavily biased.
· Data quality is questionable. Survey participation is low, and the type of people taking the surveys may not be indicative of the desired research subjects, resulting low-quality data.
· Traditional methods are expensive. To get the most participants and statistical significance, organizations are having to spend money on incentives, as well as multiple survey phases, making the process extremely expensive.
Traditional market research might be as comfortable as your favorite deli order, but it’s not always the best choice for your marketing goals. Getting outside of your comfort zone might be the trick to unlocking data and insights that take innovative marketing research to new heights.