When to DIY (your market research survey) and not

February 21, 2021
Joel Vermaas

By Joel Vermaas / Executive Director

We love a bit of DIY, and during the pandemic, many people have had the chance to start (or finish) a project.

Much like tinkering around the house, trying your hand at some DIY market research surveys gives pride in doing a job yourself.

But there’s also very real danger.

By way of example, I recently received a survey, from a business I am passionate about. As a market researcher, I enjoy doing surveys (more so than the average person).

I also believe in this organisation, which means my inclination to complete the survey is high. But I exited the survey after only a few minutes for many reasons: two-part survey requiring 90 minutes of time (!), no incentive offered, requirement to identify myself personally, questions which were irrelevant but no means to opt out, etc.

As a respondent, I could not bring myself to complete this survey; as a market research professional, I shudder to think of the quality of the data (and if they even had enough people for it to be usable)… let alone the quality of decisions made off the back of this.

As I reflect on my time working from home and DIY, I think there’s a clear parallel. Like many Aussies, I’ve done the odd DIY piece at home: put together flat-pack furniture, did some work in the garden, repaired a gate, etc.

But installing a water tank, new downlights, switching over to smart electrics?

This is all work I’d be handballing to a professional

Why? Beyond the legalities, the risk for an inadequate job is too great.

DIY research should be seen the same way.

Sure, there’s a myriad of self-serve tools (many excellent), and DIY market research platforms have templates make it easy. These are booming as CV19 cuts marketing budgets and more choose to DIY.

As a market research professional, I see immense value in DIY research, particularly when it’s facilitated through templated surveys to ensure quality and good design from the outset.

I’d encourage marketers to turn their hand at low-risk, high-reward research: only good things can come of raising the profile of consumer research within an organisation and demonstrating how invaluable it is to inform decision-making.

But one should exercise caution too. Just because I can buy all of the hardware to run my own downlights from a local hardware store, doesn’t mean I should. Beyond the legalities, I’m playing with my life, and that of my family.

And DIY market research is playing with the life of your business. The wrong research can at worst be a waste of time and effort, worse still perhaps discredit consumer research and discourage investment, but at its worst can kill businesses. Making strategic decisions from less-than-ideal research is a recipe for disaster; any minor oversights may not be apparent from the outset: what seems to be working fine, can turn into an inferno at any point when you’re not paying attention.

Let us take a simple thought experiment: let’s say Acme Company has a new product they want to launch. Acme quickly bangs together a survey asking if respondents would agree to pay a certain price for their new product and posts the survey on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

Of the 35 people who responded, a fantastic 90% saying they would consider buying the product at the given price, and Acme therefore takes the product to market… but when in market, it fails. In this case, we might find the survey instrument at fault (agreeing that one would consider paying a certain price, for instance, rather than a more appropriate pricing methodology); and/or that in fact, only a small number of fans of the brand responded and inflated the figures. For the sake of a few thousand in research spend, we now have hundreds of thousands poured into a product launch which ultimately fails.

For these reasons, I make time for clients when they say they want to DIY, and I’m always willing to review what they’re doing and provide tips. But please, when you start thinking about strategic decisions, things that will determine the future of your organisation – speak to a professional if you haven’t done it before. There are ways to make strategic research happen on smaller budgets, and the cost of business failure is far greater than the cost of a market research project.

As much as I trust my own abilities for many things, I’d rather my house didn’t catch alight… wouldn’t you?

DBM’s research professionals are skilled in end-to-end consultation solutions. With advanced analytical know-how, we specialise in helping you reach your acquisition, retention and growth targets.

For strategic, data-driven guidance, look no further than DBM Consultants. Find out more about our areas of expertise.

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