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Market research is at the core of every business, as it helps companies understand their market to communicate better with them. From there, they can identify, plan, and strategize their marketing efforts to deliver what their targeted audience needs.

Not only is careful planning and meticulous implementation of market research important in ensuring its success, reporting and insight generation are actually the end-products of market research, and are just as essential too.

These are what business owners and strategists refer to in decision-making, identifying goals, and planning strategies, as they need to truthfully and correctly convey the results of your market research. So, how do you generate reports and insights based on your market research?

While companies usually prefer to have an in-house team for market research, they often outsource the business function of reporting and insight generation, referred to as data reporting outsourcing. Not only are they entrusting it to experienced professionals and deemed experts in their field, but they are also doing this to have an objective view (third-party) of what the results are—providing them an unbiased perspective of the results.

Read on and consider this as your basic guide for market research reporting and insight generation this 2016.

I. How to Get at the Voice and Mind of Consumers through Market Research

chapter 1

For marketing efforts to be successful, companies need to communicate effectively with their targeted audience. Building strong and efficient communications with them is the goal of marketing, as it builds relationships, develops trust and loyalty, earns you brand advocates, and increases your bottom line.

Market research provides you critical information to communicate effectively in your marketing. Answer these few simple questions to help you get started:

Do you know who your consumers are?

This might be a simple question for some companies, but who you think your consumers are and who your consumers actually are may not always be the same.

For example, in the marketing campaign of Old Spice’s The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, the company can simply assume that since only men wear Old Spice, their target consumers should be men and their marketing efforts should focus on them too.

However, when it comes to buying, women do most of the purchasing in a household. So, when Old Spice learned about this from their market research, they found a way to speak towards the women buyers as well.

How well do you know your consumers?

Once you have identified your consumers, you need to learn about them as much as you can to recognize their needs and desires, and even anticipate what they need and want without them thinking about it yet.

Where are your consumers?

No matter how tailor-made your campaign is to your consumers, if it doesn’t reach them, it would never be successful. This is why you need to launch your campaigns and concentrate your marketing efforts in areas where your consumers are more likely to see, read, and hear about them.

These days, most consumers are highly active online—particularly in social media. Hence, most companies concentrate on digital campaigns and building communities online.

How should you speak to your consumers?

By speaking the language of your target market, you become more authentic and relatable to your consumers.

Once you have asked yourself the above questions, ensuring that you identify and get to the mind of the consumer should follow. Take note, however, that consumers usually say and do something while having something else in mind. This is the reason the consumer’s voice doesn’t always necessarily capture what’s on his mind. The challenge, then, is how to obtain what you really need to get to connect with people.

So, when carrying out your market research, remember these tips:

1. The key to getting people to open up with the truth is likability.

It’s a simple fact: people are more honest and open with people they like. This is why your market researchers, moderators, and front-line people should be likable.

Don’t simply hire them based on their experience in the industry, instead, hire one that can easily connect with consumers. He/she should be able to probe beyond the surface and dig deep to identify the reasons behind consumer action and behavior.

2. What a person doesn’t say is as important as what they say.

This applies to both market researchers and consumers. It is said that only 7 percent of messages is conveyed through words, 38 percent through vocal elements (tone, inflection, etc.), and 55 percent through nonverbal elements. Market researchers need to take note of things like body language and facial expressions.

3. Avoid consumer thinking.

It has been said the people don’t live in a thinking state; they live in a feeling state. They think first but decide after “feeling.”

When developing questions for your market research, recall that your questions need to be asked in specific ways to uncover hidden or driving motivators of consumer behavior—their feelings.

How do you formulate questions that drive these feelings? By using indirect questions and initiating rapid-fire questions.

By initiating rapid-fire questions (under a time limit, for example), you let participants go out of their thinking modes because you do not give them time to think—just time to react from their gut. What you eventually get are genuine emotions and reactions.

Indirect questioning, on the other hand, allows participants to articulate their values or feelings instead of answering from their minds. An example of this is asking, “How would you like to feel when using this product?” In addition to asking, “Why did you use this product?”

Getting the real voice and mind of the consumer is critical to carrying out a successful market research. From correctly identifying your customer and knowing how to communicate effectively with them to draw them out and get their real voice, market research can help your business build strong and efficient communications.

II. How to Write a High-Impact Market Research Report

chapter 2

Unfortunately, the best research can get put aside without being read. The key is writing a high-impact market research report that does not only put the research results into words but also ensures results are properly delivered and analyzed.

Here are a few techniques that can help you produce a market research report that gets read and have actions taken:

1. Make sure you actually understand the research objectives.

As a researcher, whether you’re part of an in-house or an outsourcing team, you need to spend an ample amount of time with the company’s decision-making group to truly understand why they are carrying out this research. You need to understand the reasons behind the market research and identify the questions they want to be answered.

If you only have a surface understanding of the research objectives, you wouldn’t be able to develop a high-impact report that drives actions.

2. Develop an analysis plan before writing the report.

An analysis plan sets the course on how researched data will be reported. When an analysis plan is done, researchers have time to think through specific key points of data they want and expect to get, and plot different perspectives on how to read and analyze the results.

They can anticipate and plan particular types of tests or analytics they will use, the report flow, and critical business questions the research is designed to answer.

An analysis plan allows researchers to think more about the objectives of the study and how they can be addressed in the report before they even get the data. This results in more consideration on how results are to be reported and positioned to impact decisions and drive actions.

3. Have a compelling headline and a good opening.

The headline and opening paragraphs take up only 4 percent of the entire report but are the most crucial in drawing your readers in. You need to capture the reader’s attention with your headline and opening statements right away, or you risk losing his interest, and potentially putting to waste the good research analysis you have in your report.

4. Keep your report logically organized.

Build your case logically and methodically to maximize readability. This means developing the research foundation first and then presenting each completed analysis argument to answer research objectives.

How do you create a dynamic flow of information for maximum readability?

  • Have an outline.
  • To create momentum, make each copy section shorter, as this is an excellent way to emphasize important points in your research report.
  • Read drafts of each section and mark those that bore you easily, and then edit or delete them. A good rule of thumb: when you get bored with what you wrote, it needs to go.

5. Make it short and simple.

You don’t need to have volumes of reports to deliver impact. Keep it simple and fat-free by:

  • Using precise words. Limit yourself to one complete thought per sentence.
  • Eliminating unnecessary words. When in doubt, leave it out.
  • Leaving out repetition. Citing key research studies, sales points, benefits, etc. is great but you don’t have to say it again for the sake of driving your point, as mentioning it once is enough.
  • Utilizing pictures. If figures of speech can help you say more, use it as long as it is employed in the appropriate context. Put results in graphs and charts to help facilitate understanding better, as visuals have greater impact.

6. Write your report with your reader in mind.

It is better not to use “him” or “her” in reports. Utilizing the word “you” effectively personalizes your report, imparting that it is specifically intended for the reader and helps keep his attention.

7. Tell a story with your data.

Don’t just present data results, rather tell a story about it by:

  • Simplifying complex outcomes. Be straightforward with what the data is saying so the reader easily comprehends it. Most of the time, the readers of your market research reports are business leaders that may or may not be familiar with the jargon. By digesting results in easy-to-read bites, you are better guaranteed of action.
  • Producing mental images. Eighty percent of our brain is dedicated to visual processing. Simplifying results with easy-to-understand texts, accompanied by graphic visuals deliver maximum impact.

Storytelling expresses internal truths and connects with your audience on a more emotional level—allowing you to persuade people to take action rather than stating just results on them.

How does this result affect my consumers, my intended market, and me? Storytelling informs readers of key decisions to help inspire actions.

Ultimately, your research report is only as strong as its weakest link. Start your report with a powerful opening, and keep it cohesive, simple, and straight to the point with a strong finish.

III. How to Tell if the Insight Really Matters

chapter 3

One of the things that sets a high-impact market research report apart from just data reporting is insight generation and delivery.

What’s the difference between research findings and insights?

Research findings are just data stated factually in research reports. Whereas, insights are more than just research data results since they reveal information about the consumer that can be used to position your brand in a different or meaningful way. Further, they do not just indicate consumer behavior and preferences, they can also spell out consumers’ future choices, behaviors, and preferences without the consumers even knowing it yet.

A finding states factual information, is interesting and informative, and says what consumers are doing NOW. On the other hand, an insight applies knowledge to facts, is informative and actionable, and affects behavior in the FUTURE.

Insights in Marketing states that it’s the intersection of facts, data, and analysis that brings to life the consumer’s deepest beliefs and desires in a way that enables the business to grow.

How do you identify great insights?

1. Integrate, aggregate, and diversify research findings to find a common ground.

Great insights leverage the research at hand with the experience of a market research reporter that has the cross-category experience. It requires an expert with the knowledge base to identify the common thread between research findings and NOT just relaying what consumers are saying.

2. Observe consumer behavior.

A great insight doesn’t only rely on the answers by consumers. It requires keen observation, as said in the previous chapters, people live in a “feeling” state not a “thinking” state where they sometimes do not mean what they say or say something different from what they feel. An insight observes actions and reactions, and not just listens for answers.

3. Go deeper.

Ask the whys to fully understand the emotional factors behind motivations of consumer actions and behaviors.

How can you tell if your research report insights matter or drive impact?

  1. If it drives new ideas, thinking, and behavior within your company.
  2. If it turns consumer problems into opportunities. Solutions brought about by research reports to consumer problems are indicative of great insight generation within the report.
  3. If it says more about the consumer than about the product. A great insight doesn’t talk about what the product does, rather how it benefits its consumers.
  4. If it reveals more about how people’s feelings (personalities, habits, and values), rather than what they think. Insights articulate the inarticulable—the ones that consumers don’t necessarily say but feel and behave. Consumers aren’t great historians, as they won’t necessarily recall facts, but they can tell you how they feel. And this is important because insights about consumers’ feelings are more powerful than consumer facts.
  5. If it focuses more on what is enduring and is slow to change. Insights reveal consumers’ personalities and values, which are hard to change. If you identify one that is most likely not going to stick long, that would probably just be a short-term need or a trend/fad.

Delivering significant insights is a core competence for market researchers. It requires a great deal of courage, thought, imagination, empathy, and storytelling to deliver it well.

IV. How to Get Great Insights from Your Market Research

chapter 4

Now that you have learned the importance of market research report insights, how to identify them, and how to see if it drives impact, you need to learn how to acquire great insights from your market research.

By digging deeper into research findings, moving beyond consumers’ answers to questions, and looking for the motivators and drivers behind their responses, actions, and behaviors, you can formulate great insights that will help companies strategize for their businesses better.

Here are ways to get great insights from your market research:

1. Uncover the “why” behind the “what.”

It all begins with your research design. Focus your design to not just to discover answers but to reveal or understand motivators behind answers.

You can easily do this by asking open-ended or closed-ended diagnostic questions. You can also ask questions indirectly. Some questions are best done by directly asking while others, especially those that seek to uncover motivators and drivers, are best done by circling the issue. From there, you can understand the full picture from the context of decision-making.

2. Combine quantitative measurement with qualitative observations.

Insights still rely on quantitative research results to the base, and either affirm or negate their observations. Combine them to enrich your insights and increase chances of success.

3. Let the data lead you but dig beyond what consumers say to uncover more.

Follow the leads that research data results give you, but don’t forget to dig deeper through their answers to identify what their behavioral drivers and preferences are. You can do this by using tools such as a driver’s analysis or derived importance analytics.

4. Use the newest and best tools in market research today.
The latest qualitative tools and research methods can now quickly analyze quantitative and qualitative research. Use these tools to leverage insights from your research easily and faster.

5. Seek help or work with a partner that specializes in market research reporting and analysis.

Conducting market research is an overwhelming task, and generating reports and insights from results are an entirely different matter. You can choose to work with an expert in this field to help you get acquainted with the latest trends of insight generation and research reporting, as well as orient you on extracting actionable insights from your research findings.

Your market research success will greatly depend on what kind of actionable insights businesses can derive from your market research report. Always begin your research with the end in mind – seek the why in addition to the what – and leverage the power of research tools to help you uncover great insights.

V. How to Create Actionable Insights

chapter 5

Since you have already learned how to drive significant insights from your market research report, the next step would be to ensure these insights are actionable—meaning, it turns its readers to action, even outlining action steps needed.

Make no mistake about it, as actionable insights are what make research reports GREAT. But, how do you create it?

Actionable insights are indeed launching pads of strategies (business action plans). Companies want strategies that are measurable by its forecasted success. The secret to creating a sound strategy plan lies on how you organize your data in the data collection process.

1. Organize your data into two categories: results and delivery.

Statistically speaking, these are your dependent and independent variables.

Results are the data you are trying to impact or change while delivery affects the results (the things we want to change). The delivery data will be something over which you have control—business aspects you can change or vary purposely.

When you have organized your data into these two categories, you would have laid a solid foundation for converting data into actionable insights.

2. Test the relationship between these two categories to see what delivery variable level can bring about meaningful change in a results variable.

Example:

Results: Increase in sales volume

Delivery: Drop sale prices

You can vary your delivery by dropping sale prices from 1-100%, and see what sales volume increase puts forth the effect you want. This way, you create an actionable insight!

The ultimate goal of a market research is to draw actionable insights from research reports to gain competitive advantage. Today’s evolving world has buyers change mindsets consistently and quickly. Industry leaders and those striving to be one need to think about not just getting buyers’ insight, but to identify foresight as well. Determining the consumers’ need long before they think or realize they need them would be the game changer.

Through market research reports that deliver actionable insights, companies are given this foresight—the ability to identify and understand consumer behavior, its drivers, and motivators to act upon them and give their businesses insight-driven direction and growth.