Strategic Research Frameworks

I’m transferring to a new job and during this break that I have, I’m reviewing my research books to jumpstart my knowledge and prepare for the new role. I will still be in research and analytics, but will now be in charge of projects for a B2B client, which is different from my previous role with a B2C client. So I’m trying to distance myself from the B2C client mindset and going back to the fundamentals of strategic research.

In reviewing these research fundamentals, I realized that many of the challenges we encountered during my time with our B2C client stems from deviating from the research fundamentals. Here are some of the common issues we faced:

– Lack of clarity in the strategic question the organization needs to answer
– Deluge of tactical questions resulting in answers that provide little insight into strategic business issue
– Questions that lacked broad applications because they are too campaign-specific

So, what could’ve eliminated these challenges from the beginning?

1. Clarity in strategic question that ties to a larger business objective. Instead of asking, “Why are customers not buying our product X”, we can rephrase the question into an objective, “Alleviate the decline in purchase of our product X.” When we do this, we begin to think about more business-oriented questions such as, “What are the drivers of customer purchase in this category, what are the economic factors that could be causing?”

2. Specificity in questions that align to the business objective. Questions such as “What are consumers buying in this category,” and “What is the role of price in the consumer decision?” are some of the questions that align to the objective of turning around the decline of consumer purchasing behavior of product X.

3. Development of a hypothesis. This seems so basic and simple, but you will be surprised about the number of times this is lacking in many research-related situations. Stating a reason for the occurrence of an event (ie. decline in sales), then seeking confirmation or refute allows us to gain the insight needed to understand the client’s business, and can get us closer to the answer we’re seeking.

It is our job as researchers to educate the client, without assuming that they already know all of these, even if they are in a research function at the company. Perhaps it’s even more necessary to mention this to those who are in the research function, as sometimes these could steps could be taken for granted even by those who have vast experience in the field.

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