Debunking 7 Popular Marketing Research Myths

Each day we’re counting down our Top 12 blog posts of 2014. Coming in at #7 is this essay originally published January 14.


The popular television show “Mythbusters”, from the Discovery Channel, takes on urban legends and popular myths to determine whether they are true or false.  Marketing research is rife with myths, but we have yet to see any of these receive the “Mythbusters” treatment.  In the interest of improving business decision making, we’ve undertaken the task of debunking a few of these ever-popular marketing research myths.

Myth #1: There is no way a marketing researcher could ever understand my complex business. 

But you shouldn’t want them to!  You are hiring them because they know how to get you the information you need to address critical business issues.  You need to understand your business; they need to understand marketing research.  A good researcher will ask the right questions to learn enough about your industry to give you meaningful insights.  And their experience in other categories might even give you a new perspective on yours!

Myth #2: Marketing research takes too much time in our fast-paced industry.

While this used to be the case, the marketing research industry has made great strides in creating tools and techniques that deliver information as quickly as you need it.  Again, you just need to find a research partner who understands what tools are available and will work flexibly with you to design your research project to meet your needs.  Need qualitative and quantitative but don’t have a lot of time?  How about doing them simultaneously?  New technologies facilitate the creative application of techniques to save time while generating excellent insights.

Myth #3: _____________ is the only marketing research tool you’ll ever need.

There is no “one size fits all” in marketing research.  Each project has a distinct target population and set of objectives.  The “best” methodology is the one that reaches your consumer in the way they want to give you information. A marketing research partner can help you evaluate the tried and true methodologies – as well as all of the new techniques coming on line all the time.

Myth #4: One marketing research survey/study every year or every few years is enough.

The world is changing – fast.  And your consumers and your competition are changing with it.  Do you really think you can rely on data that’s a few years old?

Myth #5: Industry or category knowledge is an essential criteria for choosing your research partner.

It is not absolutely necessary that your research partner have industry or category knowledge.  (See Myth #2 above.)  But it can help you to have a partner who has experience in your field.  They know the jargon, they know the issues you are dealing with, and if they specialize in your industry, they are keeping up with the latest trends.  But industry or category knowledge is not enough – they have to know marketing research as well.  Get both and you may have a match made in heaven!

Myth #6: As long as I know my consumer segmentation by demographics and psychographics, I know enough.

There is so much more to your consumer than these descriptive statistics.  Consumers’ personalities, values and habits are often much more influential in purchase decision-making than demographics and psychographics.  Additionally, because so many marketers focus solely on demographics and category behavior, taking the extra step to understand your consumer on a deeper level can create a significant competitive advantage.

Myth #7: Marketing research is too expensive.

Marketing research projects can be designed to fit any budget, from very small to very generous.  You just need to find a research partner who will help you get the information you need at a price point you can afford.  But it’s not really about budget; it’s about risk.  After all, what’s the cost of making a bad decision?  If you’ve spent $100,000 developing a new ad campaign, what’s it worth to you to know in advance that it really will work in increasing sales? Evaluate the cost of marketing research in light of the value of improved decision making.

Myths #8-#100

There are a lot of other marketing research myths, but hopefully understanding the truth about these myths will incent you to look into conducting marketing research on your business problems.  Marketing research is one tool in the business toolbox that you shouldn’t overlook!

Chris Holt is a Senior Marketing Consultant at Insights in Marketing, a Chicago area marketing research consultancy. Chris has over 25 years’ experience in global qualitative research and shopper insights, including expertise in the retail, travel, food and beverage, pet care, packaged goods, health and beauty, insurance, entertainment, consumer electronics, financial services, and B-to-B industries.




  1. i say sir …these myths are busted!!!

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