Dr. David Kippen, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Dr. David Kippen, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

This week, we’re trying something different. David Kippen, the genius behind Evviva Brands is going to take us on a tour of Market Research. David is a powerful advocate for the idea that you have to learn about the markets you serve.  So, one step at a time, we’ll go through the basics of doing your own work to get a ‘dirt under the fingernails’ look at the market. – John Sumser

Dr. Kippen is CEO and Chief Strategist of Evviva Brands. With a background spanning advertising and communications and a client base spanning the globe, Dr. Kippen is recognized as among the top thought leaders in brand strategy. David has held leadership roles in several top associations that support the HR and communications professions. He is currently a member of SHRM’s Performance Management Task Force and an active member of the Council of Communication Management. Full Bio »

DIY Market Research 1/5

by David Kippen

Over the past ten years I’ve had the opportunity to work on brand positions for organizations of almost every size and kind imaginable. In every case, the brand work has relied heavily on market insight. However, we usually had to try to persuade the organization to do market research. When we haven’t succeeded, the branding has suffered.

It’s hard not to sympathize with the client perspective. Market research is expensive. And it’s uncertain until it’s done how much value will be unlocked by new insights. There are always other important initiatives to fund.

So why do market research? Because you don’t live there. And it’s a big, big world. Even if you’re well travelled and well informed, it’s stunning how easy it is to make assumptions that are totally wrong and will fundamentally undermine your work.

If you want to connect with talent in places you don’t know in languages you don’t speak and navigate local issues you don’t understand, you have two choices:

  • Throw money at your agency–they’ll take it–and ask them to figure it out (they’ll fake it);
  • Do market research. Your agency doesn’t need nearly as much for media as they insist they do. (Remember, they’re faking it.)

If you can afford to, hire a firm that gathers market insight professionally and has experience in the markets you want to understand. The more they know about the markets you’re interested in, the more you’ll get out of your investment. If you can’t get budget to hire a partner, but you can get budget to visit the markets you’re interested in, you can tell a lot from a little, if you know where to look.

Assuming your budget doesn’t allow for focus groups, consider ethnography, or field observation, in emerging markets. Ethnography is an essential component of any serious market research project, but it’s hard to explain and takes real skill to do. As a result, it’s generally overlooked by agencies.  If you don’t have a budget for fieldwork, try to squeak in a trip to an emerging market.

Here is a tool set you can use if you don’t have the budget to commission market research. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not checkers, either, because good market research combines anthropology, psychology, ethnography and geography.

What should you look at on a trip to a new market? There are many points of entry but three telltale signs are universal among emerging markets: civic infrastructure; individual expenditure; private investment. Over the next couple of days, I’ll tell you what I look for in each category:

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