The COVID-19 crisis has shaken the global economy and left many industries reeling. One of the few positives to emerge is a rising appreciation of market research teams. 

The reason is simple: actionable insights, based on solid data, are more important than ever when it comes to planning business strategy. 

Leaders searching for the green shoots of recovery don’t want to miss opportunities, but nor do they want to misread the signs and jump the wrong way. 

In this situation, it’s market researchers who can provide the right insights and suggest agile, cost-effective solutions.

Looking closer, we see four reasons why your market research team is more valuable than ever. (And if you don’t already have one, or you do all the research yourself, now’s the time to invest in the right tools.)

Market conditions demand new ways to reach people. 

A major challenge for marketers today is how to engage with customers. This follows the huge move online and the rise of brands selling direct to consumers.

During 2020, many years’ worth of digital adoption were compressed into a few months, as everything from remote working and grocery shopping to online entertainment soared.

This seismic shift changed both the traditional path to purchase and the usual channel mix. The best way for brands to navigate these changes is accurate, up-to-the-minute market research and the actionable insights it provides. 

Take key questions like:

  • Will these changes last once COVID is finally brought under control?
  • What will be the main consumer needs in the future?
  • Will spending go back at former levels, or are today’s high savings rates and financial conservatism here to stay?

It’s market research teams who can provide answers and – crucially – tell marketers what to actually do in response.

Put it like that and it’s easy to see why market research teams have never been more valuable.

Audiences are increasingly complex.

Emotion will continue to play a big role in purchase decisions, but in 2021 the emotional cues that matter most will be very different to those pre-pandemic.

Audiences whose concerns were once pretty straightforward are increasingly complex.

We see this in the rise of preference for brands that genuinely care, to the growing list of issues audiences consider when choosing which brand to buy from. 

There’s also the fascinating theme of expressed sentiment vs actual behavior – in other words, what people actually do isn’t always the same as what they say they’ll do. But even if it’s just expressed sentiment that’s changed, that’s still valuable information in its own right, indicating a change of attitude if not activity.

The important point is that market research teams help brands understand all aspects of this new complexity, delivering the actionable insights they need to get closer to consumers, understand their concerns and identify opportunities for growth. 

Agile marketing requires faster insights. 

The disruption of COVID means sales trajectories are far from clear.

Nimble market research teams enable businesses to keep an eye on the bigger picture as it unfolds, so that instead of trying to predict the future, they monitor and react quickly to the present.

At the same time, with budgets undoubtedly tight in 2021, market research teams help brands understand exactly when consumers are ready to spend, where the pockets of recovery are, where consumer confidence is growing, and the differences between thinking about a purchase and actually making it.

At GWI, we’re surveying every single day and continually pumping the results into our platform so our users can turn insights into action faster than ever.

All this matters because if the last few months have taught us anything, it’s that crises can happen fast. An economy that’s open for business one week can be on hold the next. That means marketing must be more responsive than ever – starting with authoritative insights from market research teams.

ROI is everything (even more than before). 

Volatility is the norm in pretty much every industry. Marketers increasingly rely on their research teams to sort fact from fantasy and source the information they need to spend whatever budget they have wisely. 

This support for fact-based decision making is one of the main reasons market research teams are more valuable now than ever. 

Understanding consumers, analyzing data, creating accurate forecasts, and making sense of the short- and long-term implications of events are important ways market research teams drive ROI. 

Done right, research pays for itself many times over, minimizing risk while highlighting new opportunities, even in challenging times.

Of course, during a slump companies can be tempted to cut their market research budgets. Big mistake. When sales slow, it’s more important than ever to find out why you’re losing customers, where you can find new ones, and what potential new products or services they could be offering. 

Without the right research, managers are forced to make decisions based on instinct – with all the opportunities for mishap that entails. The solution is simple: leaders need to recognize the value their market research teams deliver, and support them accordingly.

access our B2B Guide

Written by

Roger is a senior copywriter at GWI with a special interest in research and data topics. He's written three books on copywriting for major publishers that together have earned him literally dozens of pounds. His hobbies include running, music and writing about himself in the third person.

You’ve read our blog, now see our platform

Every business has questions about its audiences, GWI has answers. Powered by consistent, global research, our platform is an on-demand window into their world.