We live in an age where the only constant in life is change. In this fast changing environment, the quick implementation of actionable insight can help companies succeed in a world marked by considerable uncertainty and volatility. This has led to the growth of so-called “agile market research”, which typically entails conducting research frequently and quickly. This process is interactive, allowing for short studies and experiments, frequent feedback, and the ability to react to changing conditions. Whilst some skeptics question the compatibility of agility with traditional market research tools, this article will look at some of the (easily overcome) obstacles that potentially hinder this.
- Desire to know everything
When designing a research project, clients often fall into the trap of trying to understand many unrelated points at once. Not only does this lead to a lack of understanding of what the key area of focus should be, it also raises the time and financial costs. For research to be agile, a few specific research objectives must be listed in the initial planning stages. This ensures the research design is focused, whilst leaving room for additional points to be researched at a later stage.
- Lengthy surveys
As seen in the previous point, adopting too many research objectives lengthens and complicates the research process. Furthermore, respondents are unlikely to be willing to take the time to answer a survey comprising 100 questions. Even with adequate incentives, the response rates will either be low or the user will be unengaged, potentially skewing the results. Instead, agile research advocates running shorter surveys, albeit on a more frequent basis.
- Ignoring feedback
One of the advantages of agile research lays in its ability to respond and dig deeper into unforeseen insight or findings during the following research stages. Whilst clients may be set on exploring certain points, such inflexibility diminishes one of the key strengths of conducting agile research.
Whilst agile research cannot be compared to real-time analytics, speed is commonly seen as one of its core strengths. As such, efforts must be made to ensure the research and results remain timely and relevant. For instance, taking weeks or months to arrange a focus group to explore in greater depth findings from a previous survey may mean that the topic of research is no longer relevant or the findings have since become outdated.
When conducted properly, agile research has the ability to promote faster information-based decision making. As with all market research tools, it works better in certain research categories (such as customer exploration, concept optimization, etc.) and would not be recommended when trying to determine for instance, the future strategy or direction of a company. When implemented appropriately, the principles of agility and traditional market research are by no means incompatible and can actually prove highly beneficial.