Friday, 1 June 2012

Is in house research enough?

We approach companies to talk to them about research, innovation and product development. One regular reply we hear is ‘we do all our research and development work in house’. It’s a reasonable response, after all who knows your products, processes and customers better than your company? You probably think in house R&D is easier to control, cheaper and gives you the insight you need. 

Of course we’re going to disagree with that because we’d like to work with the companies we’re approaching. But there is a very important discussion that should take place around whether in house research is giving you what you need to push your company forward. 

We see lots of brands setting up their own research panels and groups to work with mums and we think that’s a flawed way of doing research. Why? 

If you’ve asked mums to sign up to test your products (especially if that’s done using social media where they might already follow or like you) then you are testing people who already like your product. To gain real insight and get a more balanced viewpoint you need to ask consumers who might not even know or yet have an opinion on your product.  We also know that certain brands might attract a certain demographic and provide you with skewed results that will only appeal to a narrow audience. MumPanel consists of all kinds of mums, from all kinds of backgrounds (and was grown organically) which means our research takes into account the views of lots of different kinds of mums. We’re also impartial, no one wants to please us but we know mums might want to ‘please’ a brand because they like them (or hope they might get something out of it). 

One of the great things about internal research is that you are totally immersed in your product and probably know a fair bit about your competitors.  You can add to this by using an external agency that is completely immersed in the world you want to speak to (for example mums) because they can reference not only your industry but also other things that affect consumer decision-making and buying decisions.  We have been working with mums for over three years and as professional researchers and mums we know how to connect and ask the right questions to get the most rich and rewarding replies. 

Often it’s the little nuggets on information gathered during insight that can be the most significant and make the most difference. Sometime in-house research is so focussed on a specific answer that they miss the ‘background chatter' or key decision making points. In our experience innovation often comes as a result of an offhand comment by one mum. Because we have an overview of the mum world and an objective perspective we can spot these comments and then go and sense check them with other mums. 

And our final piece of advice if you are going to do in house research is to make sure you understand the ins and outs of research. It’s vital you know what influences respondents, how to ask the right questions to get the information you want and to know which answers have meaning. 

If you’d like to know more about mum focussed market research will MumPanel then email

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