by Peter Kusnic
January 12, 2018
There’s a lot of noise out there on the internet.
“Miracle fungus obliterates belly fat.” “Bitcoin, the Babel currency?” “Book your moon colony timeshare now!”
We’ve all seen such headlines, usually in the margins of otherwise credible online news sources, where fake news sites routinely siphon traffic away from real journalism. Even the most discerning reader can be fooled by professional-grade graphics and a confident writing style. And if we’re human – and under deadline – seemingly good information is often deemed good enough to get the next project out the door.
But as Robert Granader, founder and CEO of MarketResearch.com, says, “When you need to make informed strategic business decisions, good enough is not good enough. In fact, it’s risky. You need accurate information from a reliable source.”
With the glut of information at their fingertips – and those deadlines always looming – companies are increasingly turning to market research firms to do the hard sifting for them. Here are four reasons why.
False or misleading information can spell disaster for CEOs who rely on search engine algorithms to inform their business decisions. Basing real-life strategies on potentially faulty information is one thing. But having access to accurate data and misinterpreting it is another, more widespread problem in the business world.
The prevalence of paid content exacerbates matters. For example, when a pharmaceutical company paid a financial reporter to write favorably about its experimental cancer drug, stock prices soared, even though the cost savings and regulatory approval claimed in the piece were unfounded. Similarly, a media conglomerate was recently slapped with a fine for touting ads as news stories on thousands of local news channels across America.
Market research firms like The Freedonia Group employ industry analysts and economists who are expertly trained to sift through massive amounts of data to get to the truth. Their job entails tracking macro and micro market developments, interviewing in-the-field industry players to corroborate their findings, and synthesizing raw data to identify evolving trends that explain the larger narrative of the corresponding market.
News or ad? Google may have trouble distinguishing between the two, but an expert knows better
“Time is money,” said Benjamin Franklin in 1748. Today, that reads like an understatement given the supersonic speeds at which information can travel – and impact the world.
In business, efficiency is second only to accuracy when it comes to information gathering. When companies depend exclusively on search engines, they sacrifice both.
In addition to the questionable integrity of many “news” items available online, the time it takes to cross-check contradictory information with corroborated data can be immense. Even then, the consulted sources bear no responsibility for the veracity of their reporting. An employee tasked with researching, say, the viability of a certain ad campaign or product launch in a specific geographic region may well find themselves lost in the proverbial rabbit hole, wasting valuable company time tracking game a market research firm has more than likely already hunted.
As a result, investing in professional market research can help companies save time and money, which would make Benjamin Franklin proud!
Corroborating market sizing and industry trends is a taxing endeavor that requires the dotting of all i’s and the crossing of all t’s. Numbers must be checked. Calls must be made. Inconsistencies must be explained and ironed out. “Who has time for all of this?” you may ask. The answer: a professional market research analyst.
Outsourcing primary research to a third party enables companies to free up resources to address more immediately urgent internal matters. It also girds against biased interpretation of data – the rose-colored glasses some company insiders may wear to evaluate their numbers – and offers surety that the job will be done thoroughly, accurately, and accountably.
According to Teresa Hayes, VP of Publishing at The Freedonia Group, every measure must be taken to ensure the research is accurate and reliable.
“We scrutinize data and contact industry insiders to confirm our findings and learn of new trends to cover. Our quality control team looks at every number and word in every study and checks them for accuracy, timeliness, and value for our customers,” says Hayes.
Citing trusted research, companies can be more confident – and smarter – in their decision-making.
1: synergism; broadly: combined action or operation
2: a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (such as resources or efforts)
In the world of market research, synergy means understanding the relationships between disparate industries and identifying potential effects seemingly unrelated forces may have on future growth – a bird’s eye view that is difficult for some company insiders to take.
For example, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods last year clearly indicated that other grocery retailers would soon expand their digital platforms and home delivery capabilities as well. Less apparent, however, were the implications for producers of protective packaging – who stand to benefit greatly from an expected spike in demand for insulative and other higher-value packaging products.
Sometimes, you need distance to see the big picture. Always, you need experience. Recognizing synergies requires a sixth sense of sorts that takes years of training to develop – a level of expertise market research analysts spend their careers refining.
So before you spend hours scrolling through one questionable search engine result after another to cobble together a report that may or may not end up being reality-based, consider calling your trusted market research expert first!
Peter Kusnic is an Industry Studies editor at The Freedonia Group, where he also writes and edits blogs.
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