Changes in Marketing Research Industry Require New Approach
Prior to 2000, the marketing research industry hadn't changed that much in it's practices and methodologies since its heyday in the 1950s and '60s. In fact, conducting surveys on the Internet was one of those innovations and was considered very experimental as late as 1998. That was the year Gordon Black and Louis Harris merged to form Harris Interactive and created the first online panel of consumers that was large and demographically-diverse enough to be representative of all U.S. households. Since then, dozens of major panel companies have been created. Any hesitancy in the industry to use online surveys broke down as costs came down dramatically compared to in-person, telephone or mail surveys.
There has been a corresponding proliferation of online survey software offerings in the past five years, as well as pay-per-usage survey hosting companies. Much of the growth in sales for these companies has come from client-side research buyers as they tried to continually stretch to "get more with less."
The New Marketing Research Reality
The Great Recession caused two distinct coping trends to emerge in marketing research: Do-It-Yourself Research and "Good Enough" Research. With the former trend, we witnessed more corporate clients using the abundance of cheap survey software tools themselves in order to save money. So dwindling budgets and an abundance of affordable survey tools gave birth to the Do-It-Yourself trend.
Reduced funding also led to the second trend -- "good enough research." Traditional heavy users of marketing research began to make forced compromises in their research. Smaller sample sizes, fewer market segments, shorter surveys, highlights-only analysis all came into play in order to save money. Directional data, much cheaper than representative findings, might just be “good enough” to support a quick decision to position an advertising campaign, adjust customer service or make other marketing decisions, especially if the choice is no information at all. Thus "good enough" research has become another way to cope with today's economic realities.
Obviously, these two trends created an enormous challenge for full-service research firms like Polaris. Cutting costs and trimming staff only went so far to meeting this challenge, so we decided the best strategy was to go with the flow rather than fight it. We decided to create a service to help clients with DIY and "Good Enough" research efforts, so that they make sure they get high-quality research results within their limited budgets.
Research LifeLine™ is Born!
Research LifeLine™ is a totally new website targeted at survey neophytes, Do-It-Yourselfers and even experienced marketing researchers who might need help with a survey task. It is designed to help them quickly find exactly the kind of support they need for the project they're working on by offering three key services:
#1) Research LifeLine™ Help Center
A plethora of free white papers, questionnaire examples and survey statistical calculators are available for free in the Research LifeLine™ Help Center. We also have short video tutorials and in-depth webinars on a variety of survey research topics, as well as blogs, a newsletter, a directory of helpful survey-research reference websites and a glossary of common marketing research terms. All at no cost to the website visitor.
#2) Ask an Expert
If you can't find what you're looking for in the LifeLine Help Center, you can submit your question on any research topic to one of our professionals. We promise to respond with an answer within 48 hours. We also clearly state that if the question is simple and doesn't require much time to respond, we will provide answer with no charge.
#3) Survey Services
For Research LifeLine™, we have "unbundled" all the individual tasks involved in a marketing research project and customers can purchase only the services they need. Of course, these are all chargeable services. So, for example, a Do-It-Yourselfer who programs their survey themselves on Survey Monkey but who needs help creating the right questions and rating scales to use can call us for help with questionnaire design. Or a busy researcher who has survey data in hand now doesn't have time to create the report, then you guessed it: Research LifeLine™ to the rescue.
Research LifeLine™ brings traditional marketing research expertise to the new, more expedient world of today's marketing researchers.
What do you think of Research LifeLine™? Have you ever needed these services?