The Inconvenient Truth Of Marketing Research

Marketing involves a lot of research, testing, and evaluation. It can be complicated! The good news is that marketing research doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think. 

In this guide, we’ll introduce you to some of the most important things you need to know about marketing research.

The Purpose of Market Research Explained – YouTube
1. Marketing research often involves challenges and complexities that can’t be ignored.
2. Acknowledging the inconvenient truths can lead to better decision-making.
3. Being prepared to address these challenges can improve the effectiveness of research efforts.
4. Embracing the reality of limitations can lead to more realistic expectations and outcomes.
5. Continuous learning and adaptation are essential to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of marketing research.

1. Market Research Is Necessary, But It Doesn’t Guarantee Success

Market research can help you identify problems in your product or service offering, but it won’t make up for bad design. Market research is not a silver bullet that will solve all of your problems in fact, it may not solve any of them at all!

Don’t rely on market researchers to come up with ideas and solutions for you; they’re there to help guide the conversation around those challenges. 

A good market researcher will help guide you through the right questions to ask and provide insight into what other companies are doing in similar situations, but ultimately only you know what customers want from your product or service.

Storytelling has the power to transform marketing research outcomes. Discover how to weave narratives into your research approach by exploring our guide on the power of storytelling in marketing research.

2. Research Can’t Uncover Unmet Needs And Opportunities

If you’re hoping that research can give you a clear picture of what your customers want, I’m sorry to say this isn’t the case. While market research does help us understand consumer needs, it’s not a magic 8 ball that will tell us what will work or what people are going to buy. 

Market research is an important tool for uncovering unmet consumer needs and opportunities, but those findings must be put into action for them to have any impact on sales and profitability.

3. Don’t Rely On Focus Groups To Pre-Test Ad Campaigns Or New Products

Focus groups are great for getting feedback on ideas, but they’re not good for testing them.

That’s because when people come together in a group setting, they are likely to be swayed by the opinions of those around them and may feel pressure or peer pressure to conform. 

They want to be liked by the other participants and may not give an honest opinion about something that might make them look bad or different from others in the group. 

That can result in false positives (ad campaigns/products that get approved by focus groups that fail) as well as false negatives (campaigns/products that fail at launch). 

Focus groups don’t work well when it comes to testing new products, either; people often tend to say positive things about something less familiar or novel just out of politeness even if they don’t like it!

The bottom line here is that focus groups aren’t ideal ways of finding out what works best when it comes time to launch new products or marketing initiatives. 

While they can provide valuable insights into how potential consumers feel about certain ideas and concepts before launch.

There’s no guarantee those feelings will hold up after years of exposure under real-world conditions where there’s nothing holding anyone else back from expressing their true feelings freely with no fear whatsoever!

When traditional methods fall short, alternative approaches can uncover valuable insights. Delve into our article about 14 alternative methods that can revolutionize your marketing research strategies.

4. Market Research Can’t Help With The “Who Should I Hire?” Question

Market research can’t help with the “Who should I hire?” question. Market research can help with the “How do I get the best people to work for my company?” question and the “How do I get my people to perform better?” question.

Here’s why: as a market researcher, you’re often working in an industry that’s inherently competitive and/or new, which means that there are likely only two or three companies trying to solve the same problem you are solving (at least at first). 

This makes it very easy for other companies in your space to poach talent from each other if they think they have a better way of doing things than yours does; this is known as talent wars.

More experienced executives know how hard it is to keep good employees once they’ve left your company.

They’ve been through it themselves! They understand that their employees need more than just a paycheck; they need meaningful work, challenging projects, and opportunities for growth if you want them around long term.

5. Don’t Ask For The Answer, Ask For A Solution

Ask the right questions and you’ll get the right answers. And by “right,” I don’t mean what you want to hear, but rather what’s going on in your customer’s brain.

For example: If your survey question is “Would you recommend our product/service?” most people will answer with an affirmative because they don’t want to be rude and hurt their chances of getting something else from you. 

But if you ask them how likely they are to recommend the product/service and why then it becomes clear that they weren’t interested in buying it themselves (and therefore couldn’t care less about whether or not others did).

So instead of asking for the answer which is often just a positive spin on something negative ask for a solution! What would make this experience better? How can we meet your needs better? What do we need to know next time so that we don’t waste your time again?

Not all marketing research is the same; each type serves a specific purpose. Explore our comprehensive overview of the different types of marketing research to better understand which approach suits your objectives.

6. Getting Good Research And Insight Costs Money, But Good Research Doesn’t Need To Be Expensive

Good research costs money. We have all been there, especially when you’re starting or your budget is limited. But good research doesn’t need to be expensive. There are ways you can get good insights without breaking the bank and still deliver value to your customers.

Here are some things I’ve learned in my past years as a marketer about how to get great research for less:

Good Research Is Not Necessarily Cheap But It Doesn’t Need To Be Expensive Either!

You don’t always have a lot of money at your disposal and that’s perfectly fine if you’re doing something innovative or trying out new channels. 

However, if there are existing channels or methods out there that could apply equally well to get the same insights, then why not try them? 

You might be surprised at how much insight can come from free resources such as customer reviews on Amazon or TripAdvisor; Google Trends data; 

News articles published by major newspapers like The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times; customer testimonials posted online by brands themselves (where applicable).

7. Get Your Ideas Out Of The Lab As Soon As Possible (And Use Web/Mobile Panels, Eyeball Trackers, Biometric Or Facial Coding)

This is the most important thing: get your ideas out of the lab as soon as possible. The sooner you can test your ideas with real people, the better. 

Use web/mobile panels, eyeball trackers, and biometric or facial coding to understand how people experience and respond to your product or advertising before it’s too late to make changes. 

These techniques let you see how people react in their natural environment instead of in a lab setting which doesn’t reflect what happens in their day-to-day lives.

8. If You Don’t Have An Expert On Staff, Hire One (Or Outsource To An Expert)

Market research is not a commodity. It’s an art, and it takes years to master. If you don’t have an expert on staff, hire one (or outsource to an expert).

Marketers need to understand that market research isn’t like other areas of business: You can’t just ask someone else what they know about your business or industry and expect them to give you great insights into how you should market yourself or your products.

In marketing, there are so many variables that need to be taken into consideration when developing new strategies for positioning a company or product in the marketplace and even more when trying to identify why some things work while others fail miserably.

That only someone who has spent years studying these issues will be able to help guide the process toward success

Tracking your customer base is essential for targeted marketing efforts. Learn how to effectively track and shape your customer base through our insights in 13 don’t know what shape your customer base is? Go track it!.

9. Even If You Have An Expert On Staff, Sometimes You Need Outside Help

This is the most important thing you can do. Your expert should not just be someone who knows a lot about the field, but also someone who has experience with your company and its competitors, and how your product fits into the market. 

Even if you have an expert on staff, sometimes you need outside help. It’s important to find someone who understands your business and industry well enough to explain it in terms that make sense to you (and anyone else listening).

The person whose job it is to create a new drink for Coca-Cola may not know anything about selling laundry detergent or designing airplanes but he does understand his field inside out! 

The same goes for marketing research experts: they have specific knowledge about their area of expertise but they also know how other areas of business work as well.

Both sides must trust one another; otherwise, everyone involved will waste time explaining themselves over and over again instead of getting down to business.

10. Don’t Ask Your Respondents To Do Any Heavy Lifting

In the last section, I talked about how it’s important to make sure your research is asking respondents questions that don’t require them to do too much cognitively. But what does “too much” mean?

The more you ask someone to think about something cognitively or analytically the less likely they are going to tell you how they feel about it. It’s well-known in marketing research that emotion is what drives behavior. 

So if you want to know whether your product will be successful, or what people think about an idea before they’ve even been exposed to it.

Or whether your brand association test is accurate (i.e., if people associate Brand A with Product B), then asking the right emotional question is key.

11. Do Not Pay By The Hour Unless You Want Slim Pickings In Terms Of Recommendations 

The most common mistake that clients make is paying by the hour. This can lead to agencies holding back their best ideas until they’ve hit their target number of hours, rather than offering these up right away. 

If an agency has billed you for 10 hours, but only needed 8, they’re likely to keep any other great ideas until they reach 10 so they don’t lose out on earning those extra two hours’ worth of revenue.

Tackling challenges head-on is key to successful marketing research outcomes. Gain valuable strategies from our guide on how to address the biggest challenges on marketing research to ensure your research endeavors are effective and impactful.


Yes, market research is necessary. But it can also be very expensive and time-consuming, especially for small businesses that are just starting. So if you’re on a tight budget, there are ways to do it without spending too much money or taking up too much of your time. 

With that being said, some people believe that marketing research is a waste of money altogether because all they want to do is sell their product or service without having any knowledge about how customers feel about their business first. 

But what if I told you there was one simple trick that would allow you to find out exactly what people think before investing in an expensive survey?

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources that provide further insights related to the topic:

The Inconvenient Truth of the Relationship Between Open Innovation Activities and Innovation PerformanceExplore the intricate relationship between open innovation activities and innovation performance in this research paper. Discover how various factors impact innovation outcomes. Read more.

The Inconvenient Truth About Customer CentricityDelve into the challenges and nuances of achieving true customer centricity in business operations. Learn about the crucial aspects that can make or break customer-centric initiatives. Read more.

The Inconvenient Truth: Growing Wealth Gap in JapanThis research sheds light on the growing wealth gap in Japan and its implications for society and the economy. Explore the causes, trends, and potential consequences of this societal issue. Read more.


What is the relationship between open innovation and innovation performance?

The relationship between open innovation and innovation performance is complex, with various factors influencing the outcomes. Factors such as collaboration, knowledge sharing, and effective implementation play crucial roles in determining the impact of open innovation on innovation performance.

How does customer centricity impact businesses?

Customer centricity significantly impacts businesses by enhancing customer satisfaction, loyalty, and overall brand perception. However, achieving true customer centricity can be challenging due to operational complexities and the need for consistent alignment with customer needs.

What are the key findings of the research on the wealth gap in Japan?

The research on the wealth gap in Japan highlights a concerning trend of growing wealth inequality. It identifies socioeconomic factors contributing to this gap and discusses potential consequences for the broader society and economy.

How can businesses foster innovation performance through open innovation activities?

Businesses can foster innovation performance through open innovation by establishing effective collaboration channels, incentivizing knowledge sharing, and creating an environment that encourages experimentation and idea generation.

What are the practical steps for organizations to address the challenges of customer centricity?

Organizations can address the challenges of customer centricity by gaining a deep understanding of customer needs, aligning internal processes with customer-centric goals, investing in customer experience initiatives, and consistently measuring and adapting strategies based on customer feedback.