Conducting Market Research Without an Underlying Business Purpose Wastes Time and Money

The other day, a question was directed to me on the AllExperts.com Website, where I am a participating market research expert.  A student from the Netherlands was preparing a graduation thesis based on a large scale market research project he was doing for a manufacturer of water cooling systems for power plants.

His thesis topic was, “What does the northwest European market for cooling water systems in power plants look like?” 

While the manufacturer was good with the topic, his thesis advisor was not.  The advisor felt the topic wasn’t strategic.  And the advisor was right!

Market research has no value if a company can’t act on it.  Market research findings need to be taken to the next step – a recommended course of action for the client.  If the power plant water cooling system manufacturer knows what the market looks like, that’s great, but what does it do with that knowledge?  Many companies, for this very reason, end up suffering from “analysis paralysis.”

So I advised the student to reformulate the thesis topic into a strategic initiative, something like, “How can Company A achieve an X% share of the power plant water cooling systems market in northwest Europe?”  From there, he would still answer his research questions to understand what the market looked like, but then the findings would lead him to determine the strategy he should recommend to the manufacturer. (See his question and my response here).

Knowing what initiative the client wants to achieve is the starting point.  Once you know the business purpose, you can then determine the research questions that must be answered.  Once those questions are answered, you can then come up with the recommendations that lead to achievement of the business purpose.  Insights that can’t be acted on waste everyone’s time and money.

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