3 reasons why Consumer Research is the Next Big Thing. Again.

7 Nov

There is no knowledge in the business of sales and marketing more important than the knowledge of the customer. Marketers knew that in the 90’s and invested their time accordingly. Unfortunately today’s speed-to-market means the knowledge is too often in short supply.

I believe this is going to change in the most spectacular way very soon. Here are 3 reasons why:


With the rise of social marketing, consumers are becoming stronger every day. They’re acting like a colony of ants, transforming their meager individual clout into a collective heft that enables them to shift massive objects, like the reputation of a big business, with relative ease.

Understanding consumer behaviour is critical for business survival. It can no longer be a luxury time rarely allows.

In order to get to know your customer better, you’re going to need to invest in research. Whether it’s integrated into the agency model or outsourced, creating it, deriving insights from it, and growing businesses because of it, will create more value for both the business and the agency than anything else the agency can bring to the party.


Many businesses already believe they can write the ads pretty much as well as the ad agency, or get the website done cheaper, or get better value by doing the production or media buys themselves. Does this sound familiar? One thing businesses are not organized or resourced to do is their own customer research. That’s an area the ad agencies are starting to own.

Why us? Why wouldn’t a business just go straight to the research companies?

Because ad agencies are already the experts at translating customer insights into successful ideas that generate money for their clients. That’s what we do. We’re not just chroniclers of predictive behaviour. We come at these things creatively. We bring our ambitious minds to all manner of problem solving, which is what consumer research is. Problem solving.

Problem: How do you better engage with your customers? Solution: By knowing more about what they do, think and feel.

We create knowledge out of that information and use it to bring murderous insights to the conversation. (No point if they’re not “murderous”.)

Efficiency and success increase. Wastage and irrelevance is reduced. Happiness results.

There is always demand for happiness.


You don’t know what you don’t know until you know you don’t know it.


5 Responses to “3 reasons why Consumer Research is the Next Big Thing. Again.”

  1. Hi Doug!

    Found this article via a RT from @jaybaer

    Great insights. I’d be interested to know how an ad agency would price out research for a client and whether or not it would be within reach of small businesses…

    In any event, great food for thought.

    By the way, I’d recommend tweaking your Share settings to include a Twitter handle (whether yours or Copeland’s) in the tweet. That way you get even more branding props when someone shares your link.


    – Don Power

  2. dougbrowncreative November 8, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    Thanks a lot Don. I adjusted the settings a few weeks ago, but that’s a great suggestion.

    As to your question about pricing out research, it depends on how deep the research needs to go. However I don’t see it as an isolated deliverable. It’s a necessary element of a larger agency offering, the first step in an optimized engagement strategy between the customer and the brand. A very valuable one though. If it leads to significant business growth – and that’s the idea – then any company, large or small, can afford it.

    Next time I am up in Nanaino, you want to catch a coffee and talk about this?

  3. Hi Doug!

    I agree that a company has to spend money to make money and they are better off hiring professionals for many taks that they ‘think’ they may be capable of handling themselves.

    I just know from experience that when a company is willing to have a substandard website because they want to do it themselves, I’m guessing selling a research package must be a tough sell (even though I’d agree with you that the company not only needs the research but also need a professional to make it actionable!).

    RE: Coffee in Nanaimo – I’m in. Just get in touch with me thenext time your coming up (via @donpower on Twitter is best). We also have our next Tweetup coming on on the evening of Nov. 18. You can find out the latest by searching #nantweetup4


    – Don

  4. dougbrowncreative November 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Don, it’s all about a business seeing value in what you offer. They don’t see value in the things they feel they can do themselves…so it’s up to agencies like us to offer different kinds of value. But you’re right. Not an easy sell. Tougher still with the haste that propels so many marketing decisions.

    I look forward to catching up with you soon. Thanks for you comments!

  5. Thanks Doug!

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