Marketing Execs: Researchers Could Use
a Softer Touch
ARF Panel Talk Emphasizes Need to Ditch Surveys and Listen to Consumers' Stories, Feelings
By Jack Neff
January 27, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) — Long known for crunching numbers and being statistical gatekeepers of the marketing industry, market researchers need to shift their focus toward listening and developing ideas better on the front end and away from “feeding the metrics monster,” Kim Dedeker, market research VP for Procter & Gamble co., told an Advertising Research Foundation forum on the industry's future.
It's potentially a huge change for P&G, the industry's biggest buyer, which now spends about 80 of its market-research budget on evaluating ideas prior to launch rather than listening to consumers on the front or back end of a product launch to help spawn ideas or improve products.
Ms. Dedeker was one of several players who said researchers need to employ softer skills, such as finding and telling compelling stories or making greater use of ethnography and online communities. The latter has helped lead brokerage Charles Schwab to an unlikely surge in new accounts and funds under management in recent months even as financial markets plummeted.
“What we've lost, because of that focus [on evaluating product concepts], is the opportunity to listen more on the front end and co-create with consumers and to sense and respond on the other side,” said Ms. Dedeker, P&G's VP - external capability development for consumer and market knowledge…