Market research firm Maru Group has been acquiring a number of firms in recent years, and recently bought Lissted, a social listening software, helped by its backing from private equity firm Primary Capital Partners LLP.
Here, chief research officer of Maru’s portfolio firm Maru/Matchbox Andrew Grenville explains explains why he thinks the market research sector needs to change – the subject of his new book, The Insights Revolution
How do you think the market research industry needs to change?
We need a fresh approach. In my book, I outline several practices that need to stop. For instance, we need to stop just delivering data and start providing solutions to business problems. Most importantly, we need to stop being ‘just’ a researcher and start being fully informed decision makers that provide strategic value to our clients.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. I also put forward solutions, as I see them. Innovation and agility should be our focus. Surveys have been the bread and butter of the insights industry. But times have changed and so have research techniques. An explosion in technology means that there is a wider range of data available right now than ever before. It is crucial that we continue to innovate and diversify our offering so that we can help clients use all information effectively. The insights sector should continuously be pushing itself to think bigger.
Change can be hard, but if we want our industry to thrive, rather than just survive, we need to disrupt and transform traditional methods. Only then will we be able to provide the best possible insights for our clients.
Will change in the industry benefit growth businesses in particular?
Absolutely. Insights are crucial for SME companies as they look to grow and gain a foothold in new markets. Dynamic and often fast moving, growth businesses require insights that are quick, flexible, and above all, useful.
Market research is no longer about long, expensive surveys that take months to execute. These days research can be executed overnight and acted upon the next day. Exactly what growth businesses need.
How has Maru encompassed these changes into its business?
Maru was founded on the basis that market research needs to change. Its entire purpose is to challenge the modus operandi of the sector and offer a new way forward. By bringing together many different aspects of the market research industry under one umbrella, Maru is offering far more than the traditional package. As a group we help clients understand social media influence, public sentiment, and relevant trends on a single platform – something that simply wasn’t possible ten years ago.
The change you propose seems quite radical and fundamental. Are you suggesting it’s the death of the survey?
No, not by any means! Surveys are an important and valuable research tool. Indeed, they are key component of Maru’s services. The problem is that surveys aren’t always the best indicator of sentiment and can’t always be turned around quickly. They work best in conjunction with other insights. Simply put, we need to think bigger and ask more of ourselves and of the data. That way we can deliver the best insights and make the most impact.
Why did you write The Insights Revolution?
The insights industry needs a wakeup call. Traditional research methods are outdated and can’t really provide the intel that modern companies need. A lack of innovation and unwillingness to change has resulted in the sector being undervalued and frequently supplanted by other information sources.
That is crazy to me because there are cutting-edge techniques and superb capabilities available in the industry. Yet many companies overlook them and bind themselves to century-old approaches, ignoring the way people actually think and act. As an industry, we have reached a crunch point. Either we make fundamental changes to the way we work, or we become irrelevant.
I wanted to create a roadmap for the future that I think we can have, if we adapt and embrace new techniques.