Mike Anthony @ engage consultants

Mike Anthony on Shopper Marketing

How to double the value of your market research

with 3 comments

Whenever we start a project, the first thing we do is a thorough audit of what data, reports and insights the organization already has. We do this because experience tells us that really great insight rarely comes from one piece of work; it most often comes from amalgamating data and input from all sorts of places (including visiting the store).

How to double the value of your market research

As we work through projects with clients I am always amazed on two counts: Firstly that lots of marketers don’t even know the data exists, and secondly that it is clear that those who do know it exists have not looked at it since the study was completed, and have not looked at the data beyond the PowerPoint presentation that the agency made.

We frequently get challenged during client presentations “where did you get that from?” when the data actually came from that individual’s hard drive.

The reasons for this apparent corporate memory loss are many and various: but I’d like to address the most common ones.

  • Insight and data resides in an insight function, or in the hands of one team or individual
  • There is no standard way of cataloguing, sourcing or retrieving data and reports
  • Knowledge resides inside people’s heads, and people move on (and are fallible).

The fact that so much existing data is neglected is such a great shame. We’ve helped clients grow their business by over fifty percent without ever getting a new piece of data. We’ve used existing data to hone hypotheses to create sharper, tighter, more efficient research saving clients thousands of research dollars and delivering better results again and again: and we’ve created enormous shifts in brand performance by taking new data and blending it with old data to create new insights, and to be able to support those hypotheses to garner support internally and externally with retail customers.

At the same time the task is difficult. Organizations are dynamic and many have vast quantities of data and flood of “Big Data” from social or retail sources is making it progressively harder. There are  many IT systems designed to support the archiving, tagging, searching and retrieval of data and information. But these systems are not infallible, nor are the people who use them. Further, they are often expensive to acquire and expensive to manage, and beyond the reach of many organizations. So how can managers in consumer marketing, shopper marketing and sales recycle existing data and reports so its valuable contents aren’t wasted?  What then should be done to ensure that value is maximized from existing data; be it shopper research, or consumer research?

How to Maximize ROI from existing research, data and reports

Create a centralized, catalog system for storing, documenting and cataloging data.

Do not let it reside in the head of an Insights manager: they are not always present in the discussion, and they leave. And they forget. There are many systems available, but what is most important is that there is a central repository.

Get the data out into people’s hands.

Consumer data is not only relevant to consumer marketers. Share the data, talk about it, let shopper marketers, trade marketers and customer managers know what you know. The same goes for shopper data; for retail audit data; for pretty much everything you have.

Regularly share the contents, as well as the insights.

People forget, so share the total contents of a piece of work, not just the outputs. Making many people aware, even vaguely, that “we might have something on that” might be just enough to trigger a thought and a question that recycles a piece of research into contributing to a new valuable insight.


It’s a simple idea, but by creating a data buddy, we halve the chances of everything being lost when one person leaves. Meet for lunch once a month and talk about what you know, what you don’t know, what’s going on. Really simple, but brilliantly effective at increasing retention of knowledge. Pick a buddy in your function but on a different brand or channel; or pick someone in consumer marketing if you’re in shopper, or vice versa. In addition this way more collaboration is considered, and aha moments spread when we look at someone else’s world for a moment.

Assume you must have the data

Start with the assumption that “someone must know something about that”, and ask around. Don’t just ask the insights manager; ask the marketer, or the customer manager, or the channel manager. Ask people at the regional or global office, and in other markets. Someone probably does know something about it. Whether it is a valuable “something” is not so certain, but at least this way you find out.

Check the questions not the output.

One of the things that drives my team crazy is when clients send us research agency presentations but nobody can lay their hands on the questionnaire. Good research presentations don’t reference every question, so if all that is studied is the output, then there is a good chance some really cool data is hiding away somewhere. Review the questionnaires first, before diving in to anything else.

Many companies spend millions on research yet get so little value from it because they treat it as the answer to only one question, rather than a valuable asset, a treasure trove of information. Many companies can’t afford to do so much research, yet don’t get anywhere near enough value from what they do have. Many marketers, especially shopper marketers, are frustrated because their bosses won’t allocate budget for shopper research: yet they have made little or no effort to use the assets that lie just down the corridor with the consumer marketing team. Make the research pay again and again, and those budgets will begin to flow!



Written by Mike Anthony

November 13, 2012 at 9:45 am

Posted in Market Research

3 Responses

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  1. Mike: I think this is an excellent reminder about the importance of both using information and sharing the information and the insights that come from it. In some ways it’s very “easy” to do and transformational when done; but so often it’s not done for many of the reasons you highlight above. Powerful and difficult questions often CAN be answered from data already in a business!


    November 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    • Hi Thanks for taking the time to post – do you have any examples where this has been the case?


      Mike Anthony

      November 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm

  2. […] a fraction of the data they currently have. There are many reasons for this, explored extensively here : but investing time and / or money in more data when existing data is not being exploited will […]

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