Why are Businesses so reluctant to invest in exporting?

Is this the death of market research or lack of business confidence? Lack of ambition?

It is generally accepted that if you are to make a good decision you need to understand what the question is that you are answering. To understand the question, you need to get to grips with the context in which it is being asked. This may require a search through files or reference books to find the information you need; this is what we called research. Research has however, changed. To some extent it is considered old fashioned with the advent of the internet and google (other search engines are available) searches. The problem is that the industry has not changed to keep up with the changing attitudes which is strange as research should have shown them that this is not the way forward.

There are 3 main issues that need to change;

  • The way in which it is priced,
  • Using new technologies,
  • Developing an Holistic offering that includes advice on how to use research.

Pricing, is always difficult because the basics of research can be performed online using published data and reports which appears to make research redundant. The difference between an overview generic report and an in-depth market report specific to your own business needs to be defined clearly. However, as a user of market research or the company in need of some answers it is beholden to you to know what you need to know. This means understanding what you are asking and producing a good brief.

The brief is key to managing both party’s expectations and therefore the costs involved in what is being asked. Nowadays we can all find the Gross Domestic Product of a country but what do we know about the trade flows and potential customers characteristics. This is where a research project is needed. Using a menu approach or better still developing in the first instance a situation analysis to help guide the development of work and the project in full. This could be the starting point, and a better name for the research that is about to inform the decisions needed to enter a new market. Some of those decisions are in no particular order, pricing; competition and competitor activity; sales channels available; customer profiles; marketing spend needed; IP parameters, and many others specific to your business.

Using new technologies, to incorporate all the latest technologies and online research panels by sector to support the knowledge search. This will reduce wastage and duplication and allow the real time to be spent at the coalface. Time that could be spent with marketing analysis and focus groups who offer key qualitative information to nuance, and succeed products offered in a new market. Artificial Intelligence is becoming more useful in the collection of large data needed for FMCG marketing. Importantly, AI is bringing down the costs, once the systems have been implemented, and ROI of the company can begin to reflect the speed of data collection and analysis.

Of course, do-it-yourself survey providers like Google Surveys, Pollfish, and Survata are democratising access to consumer panels. With the right know-how and a credit card, you can get the same results as with firms like Kantar, but without the price tag. Automation is increasingly doing the math heavy lifting that has historically been reserved for highly trained research quants.

Finally, an Holistic approach to making research viable. The acceptance that research is now replaced by a situation analysis and further detailed investigations into specific areas of concern. For example, as mentioned before, pricing and competitor activity, a business can now define exactly what it needs to know to make specific decisions. This will allow a tighter brief and less perceived wastage of time and money.

If the research Industry isn’t necessarily rising to the challenge. Jon Puleston wrote on the Lightspeed blog, ‘Researchers must counter the organisational belief that “big data” can provide all the insights businesses need to be successful.’ As google trends tells us, worldwide interest in market research has declined by nearly 80% since 2004, we must ask, what is replacing it? Perhaps it is just a change of language as surely the same questions need answers? And surely one of the biggest issues business face is defining the questions that need to be answered. Using the same agency or consultancy to create the brief and collect the data might further enhance the decision-making process. This would allow a full strategic approach with an implementation plan ie using a full-service marketing agency to manage the entire process. Leading to a new Hybrid agency/consultancy that will take you from start to a first sale in a new market or expanding an existing market in one smooth, painless movement. Frictionless trade!

So, are businesses spoiling the ship for a ha’penth of tar?

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