Research and its Discontents

Market Research has four core components, each of which is, at once, valuable and fraught with dangers; they are:

  • Frameworks
  • Data
  • Analysis
  • Action

Many incorrectly consider these as independent or at least loosely associated.  In fact, each depends fundamentally on the soundness of the other.  As such, as with any complex area or system, each component has to align carefully in order to produce something of value; thus, most Market Research is not particularly valuable unless one considers providing fodder for marketing homilies as the goal of the research.

We need a new paradigm.

A core issue here is one of timing.  By the time frameworks are developed, data collected, and analysis provided, the very essence of the problem might have changed.  By the time we conclude that mobile phone sales are driven by the enterprise, the consumer might have taken over as the core influencer.  By the time that we conclude that men aged 18 to 34 are our core audience, we find, in fact, that the differences between an eighteen year old and a thirty year old are more pronounced than ever.  Once we conclude that a competitor is a threat, we might already have ceded enough market share to usher in our demise.

We need a new temporal paradigm.

A second core issue is one of property.  To the extent that frameworks and data are considered “trade-secrets”  that provide “comparative advantage” to research firms, the cross-pollination necessary for all great intellectual endeavors is absent.  Further, since these frameworks themselves are often anointed as valuable simply by dint of the firm’s brand, the error of recursion occurs.  Last, since indeed some data sets are themselves proprietary, no one firm is accessing all “available” data; hence, the analysis and actions stemming from these imperfections are themselves imperfect.

We need a new ownership paradigm.

What we need is freely available, real-time frameworks and data.  These will beget freely available analysis and action plans.

Research Access is dedicated to this goal.