Over the past decades research in the ‘soft sciences’ has resulted in a much deeper understanding of how people think and feel, how they are motivated and the causes of their behavior. This research is extensive, deep and rich. Yet it seems these days that anyone, no matter what their background and understanding of the sciences of the mind, can be on the frontlines of a company’s efforts to gain customer insight. The result is often shoddy work, uninformed by what the science says.

The author of this article makes the following observations about what she calls the ‘research industry’, those trained professionals who understand and apply the science of customer and market research (emphasis hers).

  • There is a parallel world going on, one in which non-researchers are reinventing research. Where our (research) industry has fought a battle to safeguard objectivity, quality and integrity, these very elements are now often ignored in this parallel world.
  • The discomforting factor here is not the fact that these people are talking to consumers, … the point is that doing so is no longer seen as requiring any skill; it is something anyone can do… we see many non-researchers taking on a DIY approach.
  • Somewhere in the process people have missed the fact that research is an actual discipline which requires certain skills, rigor and integrity.
  • There’s no shortage of researchable data. Quite the contrary, there’s more than ever. It’s just that market researchers are no longer the exclusive collector; DIY research is happening all around us, causing a mutation of research quality and integrity.

A world in which anyone does customer and market research, no matter what their knowledge of the science or expertise or training, is the world we are headed towards the author claims.

If part of the world doesn’t even know or acknowledges the existence of the industry and its expertise, is it not time to ask ourselves if this is the death of Market Research expertise?

In a world of extreme customer centricity, where everything is centered around the customer experience, it would be wise to consider if our knowledge of this experience is tainted by the lack of expertise. A thought provoking article that deserves debate.

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