Most of the money spent on consumer research is wasted because someone asked the wrong questions of the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

Outside Contractors

Research vendors report that clients exert constant pressure on them to deliver research that is cheaper and faster. To maintain profitability, vendors take shortcuts and cut corners. As a result, more research than ever is poorly done and produces information that provides little value or is just plain wrong. Acting on inferior information usually has expensive consequences.

The highest-paid people at research provider companies are not the researchers— they are people hired for their sales and client-management skills. This means more of your research dollars go to non-research expenses than ever before, and you get less actionable information for your money. Be especially wary of research firms that deliver— in the guise of objective research— results that support what they’ve ascertained are your hoped-for outcomes.

Internal Gatekeepers

In nine out of ten organizations, the people who oversee research don’t know as much as they should to properly be responsible for the quality of the studies vendors conduct for you.

These gatekeepers are most often marketers who have only a few hours of superficial training, and lack the vital in-depth knowledge and experience of behavioral scientists. They are particularly susceptible to the siren songs and soothing reassurances of outside contractors’ relationship-management experts.

The more gatekeepers between the Executive Decision-Maker and the research, the more study findings become distorted and manipulated for the very same reasons outside contractors do it: gatekeepers tell you what they want you to hear rather than the facts you need to know.