I just returned from keynoting a conference on the ROI of Market Research in Chicago. Prior to going, I expected to walk into a minefield of very divergent views on how market insights professionals can show their value. Instead, what I found was a “convergent validity” of the views forwarded by Forrester on how to show and build the value of research and insights.

What this means is that there is a clear future path for market insights. Market insights leaders at companies such as Coca-Cola, Pepperidge Farms, General Mills, Schwab, among others, are already getting on what Forrester is calling the insights value path and are positioning themselves to be able to jump over a high performance bar. What do high-performance market insights organisations know and do?

  • Run market insights like a business. Be accountable to your funders, be focused on being a value-driver (versus a cost center), and show the value you bring to the company.
  • Use ROI to optimise the business. Use ROI to show value-add but also to optimise efforts and insights (which avoids waste and creates a competitive advantage).
  • Focus on relationships as well as formulas. Build perceived value of research (through relationship-building and delivering insights aligned to stakeholder needs) while capturing tangible value through ROI calculations.
  • Focus on the return on insights. Show how you optimise the amount, quality, and value of insights you provide to the company through a focus on high-return research as well as insights optimisation.
  • Maximise both short- and long-term ROI. Don’t just invest in short-term gains, but also ensure that you have some longer-term, strategic, and even experimental projects that can provide exponential ROI across your company.
  • Partner, partner, partner. Partner with your clients, with execs, and especially with the finance department to get the support and insights you need to create ROI-aligned research and high value.
  • Push for action. Push to ensure clients can/will act on insights, and do act on insights, since they have no value unless they drive action (and change).

Stan Sthanunathan, VP of marketing strategy and insights at Coca-Cola, set a clear bar against which other insights organisations will be measured with this mandate:

“Market insights must provoke and inspire people to take transformational decisions.”

So, is this a vision you can buy into? Are we missing any key components to help other market insights professionals get on the insights value path?

Richard Evensen is Senior Analyst at Forrester Research where he serves, and contributes to the Forrester blog for, Market Insights professionals. This blog post is published with the permission of Forrester Research.