There are a lot of good reasons why any business should invest in market research. It’s not often you get to hear how and why market research did not work for clients, especially from a market research agency…so we are putting on a brave face and levelling with you about what market research will NOT do for your business. Of course as researchers we have a text book example which is the classic business case of a blue chip brand that went bust and YES,…market research was involved.

In 1975, Kodak was the first company to file a patent for a digital camera. At the time, Kodak was the leading photography business in the world. In 1981, Kodak did market research that found that digital photography would replace film within 10 years.

From that brief background, one would wonder what went wrong for Kodak given that they were making all the right business moves, investing in tech and product development, gaining insights into market trends and by 1997 they were considered one of the world’s most successful companies with revenues of over USD 31 billion? How did such an incredibly successful company end up filing for bankruptcy, fifteen odd years later, in January of 2012?

Every professional from Financial Analysts to Corporate Governance pundits have found valuable take-aways from Kodak’s down-fall but surprisingly for market researchers there is such a stark, simple insight, or rather oversight, from the Kodak story staring us right in the face each  time we do research and often comes up with many of our clients.

This one fatal over-sight that often gets repeated many times over especially for big brands that may be in the habit of commissioning research for research sake, or to affirm their market leader status is really at the heart of why market researchers are moving beyond feeding clients endless slides of data to becoming real business partners who help clients interpret data into actionable decisions.

So what’s the one market research mistake that Kodak made and that many clients often repeat?  Failing to act on the insights. Kodak knew the market was shifting beneath their feet and even led the way in developing an innovative product for the market, yet when it came right down to it, the market research never translated into any meaningful gain for the brand.

Like Kodak, many brands invest in market research, and researchers do their best to deliver accurate insights. However, the one thing market research will never be able to do for any business is make the decision to act on the insight. Thankfully experienced market research agencies are aware how hard it must be for clients to translate insights into actions and now offer consultancy support to help brands cross the bridge from decisions to measurable actions.

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