Research is undeniably a critical process for any firm in this era, if it is to make adequate informed decisions regarding its product development, pricing, marketing, distribution and customer experience strategy.
Many a time, firms do recognize the need for this process but often chose to shelve it due to the costs associated with executing research. Those that do decide to undertake research, do so at a bare minimum, opting to leave out various intrinsic components so as to manage their budget outlays/
The need to always keep within a specific budget seriously undermines the achievement of a firm’s intended research objective(s) which compromise ultimately leads to firms acquiring research data that is inadequate in quality.
Critically looked at, most will choose the traditional way of carrying out research which is synonymous with the physical collection of sampled data sets from physical respondents. Most of pf these conventional process are sample, labour, time, quality control and monitoring intensive which eventually attract very huge costs. With the new wave of technologies sweeping across Uganda, it is possible to tap into the various opportunities they present to undertake quality research at a very minimal or no budget outlay.
Today, understanding the market should no longer be limited to personal observations, interviews and face-to-face interactions that are costly to go by; instead firms should increasingly explore online interactions. Whereas most firms have heard of data analysis soft wares, few think about how technology is impacting every phase of the research process.
To a firm aiming to research on a budget, technology has opened up the options and made the world a smaller and more accessible place. It has also created the ability to access respondents globally, collect and process insights instantaneously, and peek inside the life of a respondents in real time whenever and wherever they happen cheaply.
Technology is availing a variety of cheap choices and options for when, where, and how firms research different audiences for different clients with different requirements. It is allowing for integration of multiple data sources, allowing for a holistic view of the person or situation. For example behavioral data can now be integrated with wearable devices or smartphones, and social media to inform tailor made consumer insights and strategic decisions in shorter amount of time.
It is also important to note that most respondents are increasingly embracing new technologies into their lifestyles. Firms that are leveraging on these developments are minimizing on the ever recurring costly issues of declining response rates, missing values and hard-to-reach demographics. Also the ability to access a wide range of secondary research (research conducted by others) online is also being made viable and cheap by technology.
With technology, even the busiest consumers can be engaged, moving away from only interactions physical survey panels. Technological tools are helping with the different states of the customer lifecycle including acquisition, churn, retention, upselling/cross-selling, and collection effectiveness through timely insight of their lifestyles.
Though technology can be an excellent enabler for firms to research on a budget and all the numerous opportunities cannot be fully presented here, it is also very important to note that it can be a double-edged sword if excessively used. It can build a wall between the firms and the people they need to understand (the consumer) and its application might sometimes require experienced professionals to transform all of the information into insights that tell a story, which most firms don’t have.
With all that said, by implementing the right technology, a firm could begin moving towards a frictionless and cheap market research process that timely engages respondents and delivers real insight.
Research and market development
Uganda Insurers Association
This article originally appeared in the 4th edition of the Inside Insurance Magazine