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Are market research and big data the perfect pair?

Big data is growing more and more valuable as the companies that make wise use of it are enhancing the experiences of their customers while simultaneously improving their business processes and optimizing their marketing efforts. However, while big data has the potential to provide big benefits, it does not give a fully comprehensive view of customers with insight on their motivations, future intentions, or competitive perceptions. To make big data truly actionable, companies must fill in these contextual gaps, making traditional market research its perfect complement. As GfK’s David Krajicek wrote in the AMA’s Marketing Insights, “without a window to customer motivation or method, we really cannot turn data into action.”

Together, the pair of big data and market research can do the following:

  • Provide a 360-degree customer view: It is simply not enough to look only at your customers when analyzing interactions. How they interact with competitors can be equally valuable in understanding prospects and identifying the best approach to reach them.
  • Project future actions by understanding context for behavior: When analyzing behavior on a large scale, it is important to provide context as to why that behavior took place, such as the thoughts, perceptions, and motivations behind it. Customers’ purchase intentions cannot be revealed without connecting these dots. Understanding the context behind your data is crucial to projecting future actions.
  • Improve marketing campaigns with a refined targeting strategy: While big data can be used to successfully measure demographics, content preferences, past purchases and other campaign elements, it cannot always identify targeting characteristics directly related to product need or purchase intent. Strategically designed market research can shed light and provide more extensive analytics around customer behavior.
  • Test advertising pre-launch to minimize risk: A/B tests that are conducted live run the risk of exposing the audience to non-optimal messaging that could have a negative impact on your brand. Save time and money by integrating your in-market approach with pre-testing to optimize your communications and ensure a positive experience for your prospects.
  • Understand the purchase journey and your prospect’s experience: Data from your website can provide a vast amount of information on visitor behavior, but you still won’t know their motivations for visiting, how their experience has been, or where they are in the purchase journey. Market research, through a variety of surveys, can help obtain this information to tell the entire story.
  • Go from big data to bigger data: Though market research data tends to have a smaller sample size, it is full of information on motivations, perceptions, and context for behavior. Integrating it with your larger data sets can make your big data even bigger, and provide understanding of needs, opportunities, how to improve targeting, and where to innovate.
  • Humanize your data and make it actionable: Making sense of big data is essential to focus your organization and enable better decisions and action. Market research techniques such as customer quotes, polls, and video can really bring your data to life and make it relevant, interesting, and memorable.

Big data and market research offer different pieces of the puzzle. Combining them can give your organization a more comprehensive view of the customer and their behavior, attitude, and motivations. Integrating larger-scale big data with smaller-scale contextual market research data will yield greater insights for your brand and help to drive strategy in the right direction.

Leeza Slessareva is the Vice President of Consulting at GfK. She can be reached at Leeza.Slessareva@gfk.com.

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