As the side of the Market Research family more naturally set in its ways, Quant Fieldwork rarely enjoys the same limelight as Qual (it’s artistic, playboy brother). It’s understandable though. Numbers and data aren’t as outwardly ‘sexy’, and there is generally less scope for day to day innovation as there is in Qual. However, as change runs throughout the industry, it seems important that Agencies specialising in Quant Fieldwork should similarly remain on their toes. So, we ask, what is it that takes Quant to the next level? What makes a truly great Quant partnership? And how can Quant Fieldwork Agencies help drive the industry forward?
At present a multitude of thought leaders in the Market Research industry have highlighted the dangers of commoditisation. The emergence of tech companies with unprecedented access to users, and the oceans of personal data they make available, has undoubtedly posed both challenge and opportunity for Market Researchers. On one hand Researchers might revel at the opportunity to bask in this new stream of data. While on the other, this data, smartly presented and packaged by tech companies is increasingly bought direct by end clients. How can this be overcome? How can companies avoid being seen as just a middle man?
Do we respond by becoming similarly data driven, commoditising and packaging data before shipping it out, eschewing insight in favour of the fast buck? OR do we seek to drive up the value of our offering?
Chris Dowsett (Quantum) argues for the latter. Chris is just one of the industry’s many fervent champions pushing to see agencies go further in building truly valuable offerings for end clients. Another champ, Northstar Research’s Matthew Sell, urges agencies to provide end clients with truly lasting and exciting glimpses into their customers psyche. Both rightly assert that by working harder to help clients uncover genuinely useful insight, helping them cut through the mess of data, save time and money, and build a better business, we can solidify the industry’s standing as a relevant and effective tool.
While this is all true and valuable advice for Qual agencies…
-What About Quant?-
Quant is, at face value, the ultimate commodity in Market Research. We are the ‘data providers’ for Full Service or Specialist Qual Agencies. At a fundamental level, Quant has to be accurate, reliable and efficient. But assuming that tight scripting, quality assurance and hands on project management are in place, what should we do to go that mile more? What makes an agency stand out?
Unsurprisingly, the clue is in the title. But how can we make this happen? When building a quant field partnership, it’s important to avoid using the same methodical and rigorous approach that is so important to projects, when building business relationships. Attentiveness and efficiency are of course important, but allowing some modicum of flair into the way you interact with clients will give you the edge. After all, in an era of tight budgets, and general austerity, maintaining the security of existing partnership is just as important, (if not more so) than winning new clients.
Naturally there exist a myriad of means to build truly fruitful relationships. At the core of your bonding with clients has to be personalisation. With Quant your central operational and tactical processes, your best practice, will be implemented to ensure you run a tight and consistent ship. But treating clients in the same way, working by the book, will see you come off as stale and staid. To make the difference with your partners you have to look at truly personalising your approach.
Go the extra mile. Stand out. Help guide clients understanding of what is possible through great Quant. And perhaps most importantly, show them that Quant isn’t ‘just Quant’. Let them know that they shouldn’t expect ‘boilerplate’, ‘off the shelf’ treatment. When a brief come in, it is important to explore ways that we might enhance their study. Of course, ‘the customer is always often right’, and many full service agencies will really know their stuff, reducing the call for their fieldwork partner to offer advice or make comment. But never miss an opportunity to use your inherent expertise in Quant to guide their study in a way they had perhaps not thought of.
In any field the presentation of information is key. In Market Research presentation is rarely in a fieldwork specialists hands; report writing and the presentation of ‘aha moments’ and powerful insights are left to the full service agency more often than not. But that doesn’t for a second mean that we should forget the importance of presentation.
Insight shouldn’t have to start with Qual agencies. As data is compiled and packaged, noteworthy findings, correlations and even interesting points of incongruence are likely to reveal themselves to the fieldwork provider first – why not report them? As Quant Specialists, we shouldn’t overstep our mark; but if providing truly valuable insight is to the key to avoiding commoditisation, shouldn’t it start from the bottom up? Boundaries must, remain but fieldwork partners can surely contribute more to the whole process. Tentative, concise report writing seems a bold way to go!
As we increase our value to full service and qual agencies, by building fruitful, trusting and mutually inspiring relationships, it follows that they in turn will added value on to their final offering – and ultimately the industry as whole.
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