• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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BusinessDay

Making market research the heartbeat of corporate living

Market research is a most exciting field of study, nay, area of endeavour. Exciting in the sense that it involves the systematic collection and analysis of data regarding the prominent attributes of the market one is targeting, and competition.

The idea of marketing research was developed by a man named Daniel Starch in the USA. Eventually, a man named George Gallup developed a system that rivalled Starch’s strategy of polling people in the streets – it was called the aided recall. This system was different as it prompted people to recall the ads seen in publications without actually showing them the ads. The initiative went on to help measure the effectiveness of radio and television ads, not just ads in printed media.

Coming nearer home, the history of Nigeria‘s organised market research (industry) dates back to the 1960s. This period witnessed the emergence of Research Bureau London which offered services to the Unilever Group. This agency was later incorporated in Nigeria as Research Bureau Nigeria Limited in 1969.

The industry later metamorphosed into an oligopoly, with few organised key players which included R.I, RMS, MARP, Market Surveys and Market Trends. Major clients then were a few multinationals that espoused the culture of using market research to drive the marketing process. They were mainly players in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) segment of the market.

Today, the marketing research situation has changed dramatically, both in offering and in usage. At present, there are multiple research agencies servicing a portfolio of clientele that may be described as small, medium and large in terms of turnover.

The industry has also experienced structural growth. A trace of specialisation has emerged: the offer of exclusive services in the areas of retail audit and opinion polls is a good case in point.

The subject matter reflects rays of promise in the form of benefits. These benefits include:

  Gauges customer satisfaction

  Devises more effective marketing strategies

  Identifies opportunities

  Identifies market potential

  Minimises the chances of oss or potential problems

  Serves as an evaluation tool

  Analyses competitors and creates strategic plans with which to beat rivals

The challenges faced by this industry are motley. Some of them are:

  Huge debt issue where agencies are owed for three to six months (or longer) after concluding a research job

  Inability to achieve a credible database

  Paucity of market research content on the internet

  No major legislation that specifically or directly impacts market research other than the basic ethical business laws, privacy laws, and human rights laws.

Nigeria’s standpoint in the global marketing research industry (Courtesy MSRA 2013-ESOMAR Industry Report by Margit Cleveland)

In turnover, Nigeria is the 51st largest market globally and the 16th largest within Africa. 55 percent of turnover originates from domestic clients and 45 percent comes from international clients.

Moving market

research forward

The engine of any economy is the Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SME) sector. SMEs in Nigeria fret at adopting the services of research agencies (secondary data), particularly due to cash constraint. Additionally, the main industries that have market research DNA (fully immersed in that sense) have a manufacturing nature. Upholding this context, all other economic segments apart from the foregoing should:

  Set up a market research unit and (hinging on funds) either hire a single staff/consultant and/or outsource such work to trained research students/aspirants. They can be found in programmes run by Nigerian Marketing Research Association (NIMRA), GFK research agency and Pan-Atlantic University.

  Encourage staff to come up with market research ideas that are business/industry-centric, even if they emanate from other sectors. Incentivise such initiatives.

  Make routine visits to rivals (possibly as mystery shoppers) and examine their websites/industry data.

  Optimally utilise internal data like Sales and Marketing Cost Analyses.

What to expect from market research in the short term

  The rise of mobile research

  Listening on social media

  Gathering insights at the speed of your business.

Chima Onuoha