The posts here represent the opinions of CMB employees and guests—not necessarily the company as a whole. 

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Cathy Harrison

Recent Posts

Using Social Media to Redefine the Customer Value Proposition

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Tue, May 01, 2012

It’s not the size of the venue; it’s the quality of the content. That was the case for a local customer value propositionconference I attended last week at Babson College. Using Social Media to Redefine the Customer Value Proposition, was held by the Retail Supply Chain Institute in partnership with the Babson Alumni and Friends Network, and had an impressive lineup of speakers including executives from Google, Hubspot, Staples, Radian6, GaggleAMP, and EMC. The event was an opportunity for companies to share how they are leveraging advances in social media, mobile, and other online technologies to engage customers and increase loyalty. Here are a few of the highlights:

Dhruv Grewal, Toyota Chair of Commerce & Electronic Business and Professor of Marketing at Babson College, moderated and kicked off the event with an overview of how social media helps companies redefine their customer value proposition, moving it from a static proposition to a dynamic value proposition that is able to respond quickly to market changes. According to Professor Grewal, companies need to utilize the 4 E’s of social media to:

  • Excite customers with interesting offerings to align their needs with your company’s offerings

  • Educate them with information about your product offerings to increase share-of-wallet

  • Engage in a dialogue with them and their network to help differentiate your products from competitors’offerings

  • Help them Experience how your company’s goods/services are better aligned with their needs

Mike Gottfried, Head of Industry, Retail at Google gave a great overview of the company’s vision for the future and debunked the idea that Google+ was developed to be in direct competition with Facebook. He talked about Google’s approach to mobile (predicting that soon more people will own smartphones than computers) and their commitment to launching new products and innovations, first on mobile and then on traditional platforms. He suggested that we not think of Google+ as a channel, but rather as a “common thread” for their product and services. Their mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.  According to Google, currently 1 in 5 desktop searches and 1 in 2 mobile searches are related to location. Information must be discoverable (meaning fast and relevant), local, mobile, social, and personal.

Mike Ewing, Senior Inbound Marketing Consultant, at Hubspot gave an overview of inbound commerce and how it is driven by three components: content, search, and social media. According to Mike, it starts with responding to how customers make decisions—when they show interest and a readiness to buy. He suggested that it is optimal for a company blog to be updated 2-3 times a week and create effective content by starting with the questions your customers are asking.

Kevin Biondi, Director of Digital and Technology Marketing, at Staples reviewed some of the elements of Staples’ successful approach to digital marketing. Specifically, Kevin discussed the tremendous growth and impact of daily deals. In an effort to optimize their deals, Staples continually uses experimentation. Kevin suggested that while most companies tend to be risk averse, when it comes to social media, experimentation is the key to success. 

Keith Paul, Chief Listener, at EMC, spoke about how they structure social media listening.   EMC has a “spoke wheel” structure—and he heads up a social media center of excellence and provides guidance to several internal groups that use social media data.  He spoke about ECN, a network that EMC created to connect 250k+ customers with product help. On the ECN site and YouTube, EMC has successfully utilized video to communicate their corporate social media policies in a highly engaging way. Another example Keith gave was EMC One, an internal network they use for collaboration. Keith shared that product launches are now announced online via social media and they “listen” to the market’s response and increasing interest.

Thanks to one of our methodologists, Scott Motyka, who served on the conference planning committee and kindly invited me to attend.

Click here to read about more of our upcoming conferences, webinars and events

Posted by Cathy Harrison, Cathy is CMB’s social media research maven. Follow her on Twitter at @VirtualMR

Topics: social media, conference recap, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty

St. Patrick’s Day: A Feast of Social Media Chatter

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Fri, Mar 16, 2012

When you think about St. Patrick’s Day, I bet food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.  We reviewed online chatter over the past month and although the holiday isn’t until tomorrow, we were surprised to see about twice as much discussion about St. Patrick’s Day recipes and favorite dishes (66%) than about beverages (33%).  Mentions of green beer, Guinness, and overindulgence are there, but far less than one might expect. How wholesome!  Or more likely, we have captured planning for the festivities.  Stay tuned for some interesting tweets on the 17th from holiday revelers! 

The most traditional dish, corned beef & cabbage, was most top of mind but there was a virtual feast of chatter about food comprised of almost every category imaginable.  Anything green (green pretzels, key lime pie, spinach quiche, hummus) is considered acceptable St. Patrick’s Day fare. General discussion about recipes was prevalent; some specifically mentioned having found ideas for interesting dishes on Pinterest boards.

St. Patrick's day food

 Aside from general mentions of drinking, the traditional Green Beer emerged as the most frequently mentioned St. Patrick’s Day beverage.  And just when you think you’ve seen it all, apparently some people color their wine green too…who knew?

St. Patrick's drinks

All of us at CMB want to wish you a festive and safe St. Patrick’s Day.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’d like to share my father’s favorite Irish saying:

May those who love us, love us
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts,
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles
So we’ll know them by their limping

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Click here for more on our strategic approach to Social Media Research.

Posted by Cathy Harrison, Cathy is CMB’s social media research maven and would never drink green wine. Follow her on Twitter at @VirtualMR


Topics: social media

Sig Testing Social Media Data is a Slippery Slope

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Wed, Feb 29, 2012

Social media listeningDuring a recent social media webinar, the question was raised “How do we convince clients that social media is statistically significant?”  After an involuntary groan, this question brought two things to mind:

  • There are a lot of people working in social media research who do not understand the fundamentals of market research; and

  • Why would anyone want to apply significance testing to social media data?

Apparently, there’s much debate in online research forums about whether significance testing should be applied to social media data.  Proponents argue that online panels are convenience samples and significance testing is routinely applied to those research results – so why not social media?  Admittedly that is true, but the ability to define the sample population and a structured data set should provide some test/retest reliability of the results.  It’s not a fair comparison.

I’m all for creative analysis and see potential value in sig testing applied to any data set as a way to wade through a lot of numbers to find meaningful patterns.  The analyst should understand that more things appear to be significant with big data sets so it might not be a useful exercise for social media.  Even if it can be applied, I would use it as a behind-the-scenes tool and not something to report on.

Anyone who has worked with social media data understands the challenging, ongoing process of disambiguation (removing irrelevant chatter). There are numerous uncontrollable external factors including the ever-changing set of sites the chatter is being pulled from.  Some are new sites where chatter is occurring but others are new sites being added to the listening tool’s database.   Given the nature of social media data, how can statistical comparisons over time be valid?  Social media analysis is a messy business.  Think of it as a valuable source of qualitative information.

There is value in tracking social media chatter over time to monitor for potential red flags.  Keep in mind that there is lot of noise in social media data and more often than not, an increase in chatter may not require any action. 

Applying sig testing to social media data is a slippery slope.  It implies a precision that is not there and puts focus on “significant” changes instead of meaning.  Social media analysis is already challenging – why needlessly complicate things?

Cathy is CMB’s social media research maven dedicated to an “eyes wide open” approach to social media research and its practical application and integration with other data sources. Follow her on Twitter at @VirtualMR 





Topics: marketing strategy, social media

Social Media Research: Keeping it Real

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Wed, Jan 11, 2012

Social media listeningSocial media research is still behind social media marketing in terms of getting past the hype.  Clearly there’s some overselling going on and more education is needed about how and when to effectively use social media data.  Some sales folks even go as far as suggesting social media listening can replace market research as a way to save money – without having the background or unbiased perspective needed to make such a suggestion. 

It’s time for researchers to have an open dialogue about social media data – warts and all.  What biases exist?  What steps are necessary to put the data in a truly usable form?  What are the best applications for social media analysis?  How can we best integrate it with other data sources?  I’m not going to try and tackle all these questions in this blog, but hopefully I can help stimulate discussion over time.

To put things in perspective, one must consider that typically only a fraction of social media chatter is worthwhile and relevant to your specific objectives. Keep in mind that the topic of interest for your social media analysis has a huge impact on how many “sound bites” you have to work with.  As you are pulling data, it can be a challenge to “disambiguate” (i.e., remove irrelevant chatter) and, in some instances, almost impossible.  Another challenge is that social media data is largely unstructured. Automatic coding isn’t optimal – especially if you plan to integrate the results with other data sources. 

Despite these challenges, there is no denying that it’s a valuable data source.  Having the ability to learn from chatter that is occurring naturally online and applying state-of-the-art technology to aggregating and analyzing this data is powerful stuff.   Social media analytic tools and text analytics are always evolving.   But even with the best social media listening tools and analysts available, social media listening cannot and should not be applied across all situations.  NO analytic tool or technique is a one-size-fits-all solution.   

Let’s put social media analysis in perspective across all of the tools, techniques, and data sources we have to work with.   Exciting things are on the horizon, but for now, let’s not expect (or promise) more than social media data can deliver.

Cathy is CMB’s social media research maven dedicated to an “eyes wide open” approach to social media research and its practical application and integration with other data sources. Follow her on Twitter at @VirtualMR

social media webinar


Check out our webinar Understanding B2B Social Media: An AMD Case Study and learn more about how Social Media Research is making a difference for our clients. Click here.

Topics: marketing strategy, social media

Impressions of the AMA Conference: Greater Focus on the Frontlines

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Wed, Sep 21, 2011

Strategy Client researchers are on the frontlines, fighting to redefine and broaden their role in the corporate decision making process. The rest of us are special forces, support troops, or reinforcements –devoted to helping our clients succeed. As a vendor-side attendee, I was pleased to see that the program lineup at the AMA Research & Strategy Summit last week was geared towards helping client researchers effectively “drive transformation.”  That’s where it happens….cutting edge tools and techniques are only transformational if they reveal new insights that will give corporations a competitive advantage.

For many of the presentations, I was drawn in by the sound advice and specific approaches clients have used with success. The program was well done overall, but I have to say that Abby Mehta of Monster Insights, Tim Ruth of AT&T, Jeff Mercer of Microsoft, Dana Williams and Dorette Warms of Southwest Airlines, and Ian Lewis of Research Impact Consulting were especially helpful for those in a client-side role. Without a doubt, this information would have benefited me in my Bose and Wrangler days.

A recurring theme throughout the presentations: client researchers on the frontline need to get out of the trenches and forge ahead with business knowledge, consulting skills, research expertise, and the ability to synthesize and convey insights with great storytelling skills.  Even with these capabilities, corporate researchers often face fierce opposing forces from long-standing corporate cultures, which may exclude researchers from having a “seat at the table.”  As Jeff Mercer outlined for the audience, client researchers face continued challenges—changing the expectations of their internal partners, breaking old habits, and fitting talent into the new mission.

The focus on client researcher needs not only furthers the support troops’ appreciation of the challenges our clients are tackling, but also benefits the AMA as an organization.  IIR Conferences are known to have a higher ratio of end users.  This not only increases overall attendance, but also allows them to command a premium price.  If AMA can attract more end users and keep their conference fees reasonable, they will fill a sorely needed niche in the market research conference arena.  Budgets are tight and conferences have become a luxury for many corporate researchers – those who would benefit from the information the most. 

I applaud AMA for having a great line-up of speakers – including our clients Christopher Frank and Marilyn Franck, and our partner NetBase – and for focusing content on where ”the rubber meets the road.”

Did you attend? What did you think?

Posted by Cathy Harrison. Cathy is a client services executive at CMB and has a passion for strategic market research, social media, and music.  You can follow Cathy on Twitter at @virtualMR    

You'll also find Cathy at The Market Research Event (TMRE). Are you planning on going to TMRE? CMB is an event sponsor and presenter at the conference. Feel free to use the code: TMRE11CMB when you register  for a discounted price. We hope to see you there. Learn more about the conference here.



Topics: conference recap

Compilation Scores: Look Under the Hood

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Wed, Aug 03, 2011

My kid is passionate about math, and based on every quantitative indication, he math problemexcels at it.  So you can imagine our surprise when he didn’t qualify for next year’s advanced math program. Apparently he barely missed the cut-off score - a compilation of two quantitative sources of data and one qualitative source.  Given this injustice, I dug into the school’s evaluation method (hold off your sympathy for the school administration just yet).

Undoubtedly, the best way to get a comprehensive view of a situation is to consider both quantitative and qualitative information from a variety of sources.  By using this multi-method approach, you are more likely to get an accurate view of the problem at hand and are better able to make an informed decision.  Sometimes it makes sense to combine data from different sources into a “score” or “index.”  This provides the decision-maker with a shorthand way of comparing something – a brand, a person, or how something changes over time.

These compilation scores or indices are widely used and can be quite useful, but their validity depends on the sources used and how they are combined.   In the case of the math evaluation, there were two sources of quantitative and one qualitative source.  The quantitative sources were the results of a math test conducted by the school (CTP4) and a statewide standardized test (MCAS).  The qualitative was based on the teacher’s observations of the child across ten variables, rated on a 3 point scale.  For the most part, I don’t have a problem with these data sources.  The problem was in the weighting of these scores.

I’m not suggesting that the quantitative data is totally bias-free but at least the kids are evaluated on a level playing field.  They either get the right answer or they don’t.  In the case of the teacher evaluation, many more biases can impact the score (such as the teacher’s preference for certain personality types or the kids of colleagues or teacher’s aides).  The qualitative component was given a 39% weight – equal to the CTP4 (“for balance”) and greater than the MCAS (weighted at 22%).  This puts a great deal of influence in the hands of one person.  In this case, it was enough to override the superior quantitative scores and disqualify my kid.

Before you think this is just the rant of a miffed parent with love blinders on, think of this evaluation process as if it were a corporate decision that had millions of dollars at stake.  Would you be comfortable with this evaluation system?

In my opinion, a fairer evaluation process would have been qualification of the students based on the quantitative data (especially since there were two sources available) and then for those on the “borderline” use the qualitative data to make a decision about qualification.  Qualitative data is rarely combined with quantitative data in an index.  Its purpose is to explore a topic before quantification or to bring “color” to the quantitative results.  As you can imagine, I have voiced this opinion to the school administration but am unlikely to be able to reverse the decision. 

What’s the takeaway for you?  Be careful of how you create or evaluate indices or “scores.” They are only as good as what goes into them.

Posted by Cathy Harrison.  Cathy is a client services executive at CMB and has a passion for strategic market research, social media, and music.  You can follow Cathy on Twitter at @virtualMR     


Topics: advanced analytics, methodology, qualitative research, quantitative research

Shankman's Rant: Nobody Needs to Die in a Fire

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Thu, Jun 02, 2011

If you missed it, popular blogger tug o war resized 600Peter Shankman caused quite the internet stir with “Why I Will Never, Ever Hire A ‘Social Media Expert’".  His rant, likely by design, ignited a passionate response from would-be fire victims.  Their reaction received almost as much attention as Shankman’s original post.  After reading it, I have to admit, I felt a little like ranting too.

While Shankman’s sensationalist tone definitely created a commotion (and all the traffic that comes with it), I wonder if he sacrificed his message in an extreme point of view?  Once I sifted through the bluster, I realized that I agreed with much of what he had to say:

  • Marketers should ignore the hype and take a holistic, grounded view of how social media can contribute to their overall marketing goals
  • Be wary of “social media experts” who don’t know anything about marketing and can’t write
  • Gathering feedback and truly understanding your audience is essential – a stream of tweets without true engagement is meaningless

Where Shankman loses me is the idea that companies would not benefit from having a dedicated social media professional on staff.  Social media covers a broad spectrum of applications and channels and these are constantly changing.  If marketers are going to take a realistic perspective about social media, should they spend a disproportionate amount of time keeping updated on its evolution?

I advocate social media usage here at CMB but don’t call myself an “expert” or “guru.”  I am active on the major platforms, read a lot, and try to keep up with important industry changes.  I’m often told that I have a healthy perspective about the value of social media. 

But here’s the thing: to me, social media provides just another data point to be considered in the ideal multi-mode, integrated approach to market research.  The idea that it will totally replace market research is not realisticInstead, social media is simply another arrow in the market research quiver – one that’s designed to gain a holistic view of your target audience. 

Posted by Cathy Harrison.  Cathy is a client services executive at CMB and has a passion for strategic market research, social media, and music.  You can follow Cathy on Twitter at @virtualMR     

IIR Measure Up BostonWant to know more about social media's ROI?  Our own Jon Giegengack will present at this year's IIR Measure Up Conference in Boston next week.  Cathy will be in attendance on Monday.  Feel free to say "hello!"

Topics: marketing strategy, social media

Testing Your Strategic Insights: Research as an Investment or an Expense?

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Wed, Mar 09, 2011

M  CMB Photos and Stock Photography Stock Photography Business Business Imagery Jigsaw puzzle resized 600It has always been important to keep up with professional literature and the latest developments in your profession.  Despite devoting time each day to the task, there are times when I feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of incoming information.  Every day I stick professional journals in my backpack to read on the train, read a few blogs, click on Twitter links that capture my interest, search online for interesting content, and try to squeeze in an occasional webinar.  And on top of all that, I actually have to do my job.

There are some resources I hold above others in terms of learning ‘pay out’.  The McKinsey Quarterly is one of my favorites.  Usually the articles are not specifically about market research, but they strengthen my knowledge as a strategic partner.  Having a strategic outlook isn’t just important for writing the executive summary and recommendations, it’s essential to optimize every stage of the process. 

I recently read an article in the January 2011 issue of the McKinsey Quarterly “Have you tested your strategy lately?” (Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smit)*.  The authors outline ten tests for executives to gauge the strength of their strategies.  According to the results of a study of global executives on testing business strategy, most companies’ strategies pass fewer than four of the ten tests (source: 2010 McKinsey survey of 2,135 global executives).   These tests are:

Test 1:  Will your strategy beat the market?

Test 2:  Does your strategy tap a true source of advantage?

Test 3:  Is your strategy granular about where to compete?

Test 4:  Does your strategy put you ahead of trends?

Test 5:  Does your strategy rest on privileged insights?

Test 6:  Does your strategy embrace uncertainty?

Test 7:  Does your strategy balance commitment and flexibility?

Test 8:  Is your strategy contaminated by bias?

Test 9:  Is there conviction to act on your strategy?

Test 10:  Have you translated your strategy into an action plan?

For several tests, stated both directly and indirectly, success relies on a foundation of quality market research.  There are times when DIY research tools and convenience samples are adequate, but for a company’s most important strategic decisions, investment in expert market research support is essential.   The authors point out in Test #5 that “data today can be cheap, accessible, and easily assembled into detailed analyses that leave executives with the comfortable feeling of possessing an informed strategy.  But much of this is noise and most of it is widely available to rivals.”  It is a matter of competitive advantage to invest in mining proprietary insights.  This may require investment in multiple modes/stages or advanced analytics but without a doubt, it will require the client and trusted, highly qualified partners to closely work together as a team. 

The most successful companies understand and respect the power of market research.   Their researchers actively participate in the strategic process and the company is willing to invest in professional market research and not be tempted by the short-term savings of “down n’ dirty research to confirm what we already know.”   

Do you think your strategy would pass the test?  No matter what, I recommend putting this McKinsey article on top of your professional reading pile and prepare to be enlightened.

*Registration required


Posted by Cathy Harrison.  Cathy is a client services executive at CMB, loves social media, music, and kick-butt research.  You can follow Cathy on Twitter at @virtualMR

Topics: strategy consulting, business decisions, marketing strategy

Planning Ahead: Preparing for Market Research Excellence

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Mon, Oct 18, 2010

market research planningVery soon there will be snow on the ground here in Boston and I am determined to do a better job of preparing for the colder weather.   I vow to protect my boys from the taunts of their peers for wearing “high water” snow pants. And I will not spend another moment smelling burning rubber as I try to go up our driveway because we don’t have sand.

The end of the calendar year is fast approaching and just as much forethought should be put into your market research plans for next year.  There will always be unexpected research needs, but researchers can save both time and money and improve the quality of their results (and organizational standing) by doing a better job of planning. 

Some questions you should ask yourself and your internal clients as you pull together your annual market research plan:

  • Is it time to freshen or do a complete overhaul of foundational research?   Depending upon your industry and how fast it is changing, you may need to repeat market studies as often as once a year.  You should assess whether it is time for a refresh by examining the extent to which there are changes in the competitive landscape, new product innovations, and/or technological advances. Also determine whether new corporate objectives/focus require an adjustment in the types of research you will need to conduct or, at a minimum, a re-evaluation of the survey content.
  • Is there an opportunity to increase the efficiency of future questionnaires?  There is a vast amount of information in existing data sets that could be used to pare down those long lists of attributes you measure on an ongoing basis.  Plan ahead for future research by discovering which attributes are measuring the same underlying factor and eliminate the weakest ones.  This can be easily accomplished with a technique called factor analysis.
  • Could I be more proactive in anticipating the needs of my internal clients?  By staying informed about the most pressing issues facing your company, you can better plan for finding time/budget to efficiently and thoroughly address stakeholder needs.  Too often researchers are put into a reactive mode which leads to not fully thinking through all the issues and squeezing schedules to the point of hurting quality assurance procedures.
  • Have you set up a system for keeping on top of industry, market research, and consumer trends?  Efficiently stay informed about industry and consumer trends by using RSS readers or news aggregators.  After you set  it up, the information is automatically updated with the latest information.   The benefits are numerous:  increase your visibility as an industry expert,  uncover the ability to occasionally skip primary research if the information already exists, and make improvements to  future primary research efforts (identifying key areas to measure, building upon an increased knowledge base instead of repeating what is already known, making your research results more  actionable).
  • Have you talked to your peers about their plans?  Take the time to talk to other market researchers within the organization to see where data can be leveraged or where planned initiatives overlap.   Not only will this save time and money,it will give your company a more unified perspective.  

So set aside a day or two for planning for greater market research excellence in 2011; it will be time spent wisely.

Posted by Cathy Harrison.  Cathy is a client services executive at CMB, loves social media, music, and kick-butt research.  You can follow Cathy on Twitter at @virtualMR

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Topics: methodology, research design

Be Wary of Decentralizing the Corporate Market Research Function

Posted by Cathy Harrison

Tue, Jun 29, 2010

This blog post was inspired by Kathryn Korostoff's post Market Research Decentralization:  Power to the People and is based on my experience on both the client and provider sides of the market research business.

custom market researchThese are exciting times in the market research industry - and while there has always been continual change (one of the reasons I love my career choice), now the pace of change seems to be at warp speed.  Market research is more accessible than ever before and today anyone can get access to survey programming tools and if they are so inclined, training to conduct their own studies.  For new start-ups and small companies without internal market research support or the funds to hire outside expertise, these new resources allow them to gather market information quickly and affordably.There is no question that these resources benefit businesses that would have otherwise gone without, but what about large corporations?  How should they deal with non-researcher access to these same tools?  Does ownership of the expertise and technology need to live in a centralized department? 

For a number of reasons corporate research departments often don't get the respect they deserve from the rest of the organization, but I don't think decentralization (or a hybrid solution) is the answer to increasing the attention, credibility, and actionability of research findings.   I have worked on all sides of the business (client, supplier, advertising agency) and know cross-functional teams can work extremely well.  In fact, some of my best work was done in a cross-functional environment - the stakeholders remained engaged with frequent team meetings and by learning what goes on ‘behind the scenes' (data cleaning, processing, analysis), they gain respect for the expertise I have worked hard to build, and they understand the process so that they have clear expectations and enthusiasm for the final result.  Now that I am on the provider-side again, I have seen that powerful cross-functional partnerships also apply to provider /client relationships and that providers can help drive teamwork within organizations.

So, why is there so much interest in avoiding the research department?  Why is market research treated differently from other areas of expertise? 

I believe it comes down to people ‘not knowing what they don't know.'  Most market research may seem relatively straight-forward, but there is definitely a line where expertise needs to come in, a line which is often difficult for the non-researcher to determine.  Market research knowledge can give companies a competitive advantage, but in most cases the insights (and reliability of the data) gathered through a simple DIY survey does not suffice.  An experienced researcher can ensure the right questions are asked in way that can be used to dig below the surface and uncover new knowledge that weaves a story for decision makers to act on. 

Of course, for centralization to succeed researchers must commit to regularly scheduled meetings with stakeholders, share responsibility in cross-functional teams, and provide grounded, interesting communication of the results. They also must be willing to take the time to explain the ‘what,' ‘why,' and ‘how' to those who are interested.

In my opinion, it is just good business sense to keep your research function centralized.  It serves as a hub of dedicated professionals who work closely together and share information.  Upon this stronger knowledge base, the company can get a holistic view of their target audience and build synergies across projects.   Centralization also ensures that market research efforts aren't duplicated, which results in significant cost savings and allows for resources to be optimized when research needs fluctuate across various departments.

Finally, there are potential damages to your brand and customer relationships if research is done improperly.  For example, decisions made using questionable data or interpretations can lead to loss of profitability.   And the use of amateurish questionnaires or over-researching your customers can hurt your company's brand image among the people who matter most. 

In short, centralization strengthens a company's market research function- both in terms of actionability and cost savings.  

Posted by Cathy Harrison.  Cathy is a client services executive at CMB, loves social media, music, and kick-butt research.  You can follow Cathy on Twitter at @virtualMR

Topics: consumer insights