As we wrote in our last blog introducing this series, we are publishing trends from our research this summer interviewing those who work with and directly buy research. It is an important part of how we, as a consultancy, can better learn about those we value most, you—our clients.

The first of the four areas we will explore is: Your ask of a research partner.

After 32 hours of interviews, we uncovered five trends on this topic:

1. The research you commission across practice areas is still not free from the dreaded data dump.

“The most important challenge is to translate the MR into business insights! Most cannot do this…they can give me a 160 page data deck but cannot put that data into context. They can turn a spreadsheet into a power point, but not data into insights.”
– 
Global Brand Director

You utilize a variety of accepted methodologies and sources in your roles, with one ultimate goal: business-relevant insights.

The take away: Your best research partners have real intake conversations with you, identifying what the research needs to solve for in design and reporting.

2. There is a big difference between a research vendor and a research partner. A partner is not always looking for the sale. They are innovative, not just pitching products. They even (gasp!) do on-site visits because they have skin in the game. Your partners are not order-takers, they are high-functioning strategic thinkers. In short, vendors come and go, partners are irreplaceable.

“I call a vendor with a project; I call a partner with a problem.” –Director of Customer Insights

The take away: Your ideal research company has a deep bench of consultants whose role is thought partner and solution provider—not a salesperson.

3. A clarion call for true innovation. You are asking your research partners to riddle you this: Is this a new level of insight or just a shiny

technological magic trick?

“Researchers should have some self-awareness. Are you really the only ones offering something? You may have innovative products, but do you have innovative solutions?
-Manager of Market Research

Your businesses have been in a perpetual state of innovation, pressured by market imperatives. You are holding your research partners to providing innovation that positively impacts what you need for your business.

The take away: Your research partner must talk innovative solutions, not just new products, and be able to articulate the value they actually bring.

4. It may seem like a no-brainer, except you made it clear you aren’t always getting it, and that’s excellence in project management. It’s still shocking to you when the basics are not buttoned up. With all you have to do, the last thing you want on your plate is to micro-manage the outside research team.

“What makes a great project? Consultative experience gives me the ammo I need internally, a partner. But, you’ve got to get the blocking and tackling right. If you can’t, you’re one. I’m not trouble shooting your issues.” –GM of Brand Strategy and Insights

 The take away: Projects must run smoothly for you, to avoid work stress and the creation of distrust in the partner relationship.

5. Lastly, but likely the most powerful, you want great reporting.

“Speak human, in snackable pieces; be a storyteller!” –Brand Manager

You want industry-level not just project-level expertise, coupled with strong analytics that have a reason to be there—because they bring deep thinking and real value.

The take away: A true partner provides reports with clear and concise recommendations you can share out with confidence and without the reworking.

In summary, there’s a gap between the promise and the real, a gap that any smart research partner must close to create that loyalty that makes you say, you are irreplaceable!

Stay tuned for our next blog where we share what you told us about how research is changing. In the meantime, if you can’t wait,  request a copy of the report.