Monday, May 2, 2011

7-Part Series, Beyond Market Research Numbers; Part 1, Insights From Global Leader TNS

Cheryl Max
Market research and marketing research are often interchanged in conversation even though they are not really interchangeable in actual meaning. Both are vital elements of a business plan and an overall marketing plan in any business strategy.

Market research is information collected in an organized, objective methodology to identify and analyze current and emerging market needs, market size, and both company and product or service competition. Marketing research is information geared toward “how and where” to bring buyers to a product or service and understanding and overcoming any consumer objections.

Market research identifies the trends and insights that give companies the ability to project how buyers have a relationship with your product and help companies understand and overcome their perceptions. It is also used to help companies understand employee and client satisfaction at an enterprise level, or to understand perceptions with people like personalities and politics.

Information can be collected in a myriad of ways. Some of the most popular being current customer intelligence, potential customer surveys, focus groups, polling, secret shopping, putting a product in a test market, digital mapping, new trend scouting, and social, political and legislative predictive.

There are two types of primary target markets – business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B). There are two types of primary methodological approaches – qualitative and quantitative.

While numbers are interesting, as a business or an individual, the growing importance of statistics and research is to look beyond the data tables and understand the underlying social, political or economic influences that will occur because of changes and shifts you see in numbers.

TNS is the world's largest “Custom Market Research” specialists. TNS provides “quality marketing insights delivered by Global Industry Sector experts and consultants with market research expertise across the product life-cycle, in 80 countries.”

Cheryl Max is the TNS Senior Vice President of North American Marketing headquartered in New York City. She advises, “Well delivered data tells a story about the changes happening in a culture and business and what it will mean to an individual, an enterprise, or a country overall.”

TNS Global’s world leading industry market research experts focus on researching specific industry sector issues and understand inside out the challenges their clients face. Many of the world's leading Market Research Consultants work for TNS.

TNS services range from local to global focused research for clients ranging from community based to country scope. Their areas of expertise include custom research, brand and communication, management, product development and innovation, retail and shopper, opinion polling, digital research, and qualitative research.

Some of the companies working with TNS Global include Barclays, Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), Microsoft, Nissan, Proctor & Gamble, Renault, Samsung, Toyota, Unilever, and Volkswagen. Some apply market research in the U.S. and some outside the U.S.

Senior VP Cheryl Max explains the company’s leading position in market research on a global scale is their emphasis on meeting client needs with results that allow extraordinarily usable information. “While methodologies are interesting, what is more important is the clarity of the information that is obtained, so it helps companies make smart decisions moving forward.”

“TNS conducts thousands of custom research studies and several syndicated research studies. There are many different methodologies we use depending upon the need. Most of our work is survey-based of respondent attitudes.”

Market research is growing rapidly as a proven business tool in maximizing branding and product success. Considering on average, according to various studies, up to 75% of new products fail, why would a company not adopt market research as a necessary business tool in 2011?

Cheryl Max offers, “Limited budget and time are the two main reasons companies don’t use new product research. New product development research is a key area for us. We work with a lot of clients across their product development stages to help them mitigate product failures. This is truly an area that companies need to pay more attention to. Large companies tend to invest here, whereas smaller companies don’t.”

TNS Global provides strategic market research services to enterprises across a wide variety of sectors in both the B2C and B2B space for projects ranging from local to global. Cheryl explains, ‘We are the largest custom market research company in the world, yet big does not mean we are not personal. We have client teams that personally manage accounts of all sizes, so we are fully invested in understanding our clients and their business.”

Cheryl knows a vital element in assisting clients is in deciding what to measure. “The process begins with understanding the client’s key business issue. The research is then structured to help get to the root of the issue, and more importantly, to enable them to take action from the results.”

She continues, “Research and reports are interesting, but they are a means to an end. The reason any company should do research is to help them better understand their business issue, so they can take action within their organization against the learnings.”

An important element in assisting clients is in targeting market influencers. Cheryl notes, “To effectively target influencers, our clients need to fully understand those influencers’ attitudes, behaviors, and demographics. TNS insights methodology and analysis details these key factors.”

How does TNS assist clients in applying the data and numbers, to go beyond the numbers? Cheryl details, “Our client representatives are more than research experts. They are deep industry experts. They are able to apply knowledge from syndicated and secondary research to complement what we see in our specific research.”

“More importantly, TNS representative don’t just deliver a research report. Our teams look at how the “what” (the reported numbers) indicate in terms of how this can become a “so what” and “now what” for clients.”

“Our teams deliver a story that helps our clients understand the impact of the numbers and helps them craft business strategies that address what the numbers tell us, so they can be more competitive and meaningful to their target audience.”

What exactly is the TNS difference? Cheryl answers, “I’d say there are two key differences with TNS. First, given our depth, breadth and the Kantar network, we can help bring together all the elements of your marketing mix to provide you with a more holistic picture of what’s going on with your products.”

“Our other key differentiation is our ability to deliver beyond the numbers and the “so what”. We partner with the research team and the line of business teams to help clients create “what if” scenarios. The result of our research creates meaningful actions for clients to effectively solve business challenges.”

TNS Global syndicates their reports in their five key areas of expertise: Automotive, Consumer Products, Financial Services, Technology, and Social & Polling. Senior Vice President Cheryl Max provides, “TNS also syndicates surveys on Digital usage with a separate study conducted recently on the use of mobile devices and habits.”

Cheryl concludes, “TNS syndicates to provide our clients with insights at a more economical rate than if they were to commission the study independently.” We will be exploring trends within these specific market sectors provided from interviews with TNS executive experts in our 7-part success series over the next week. The series will include:
Part 2 – Automotive
Part 3 – Consumer Products
Part 4 - Financial Services
Part 5 – Technology
Part 6 - Social & Polling
Part 7 – Global Focus

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