Brand Packaging

Are brands becoming over-reliant on research? Is it a cause of strife among various brand disciplines?

August 16, 2010
Bill Less,
The DuPuis Group

Brand owners and design agencies didn't always completely understand what research outcome(s) determine success at the beginning of an assignment."
 
Martha Cotton,
Gravity Tank

If research is not helping you make decisions, you haven’t become over-reliant on research, you’ve just done bad research.
 
Larry Light,
Arcature

Processes do not make decisions. Metrics do not make decisions. People make decisions. We must get the balance correct.


Bill Less, The DuPuis Group:

The short answer is yes, we have seen a trend toward "over-researching" as well as CPGs being too reliant on research results.  One thing we found was that brand owners and design agencies didn't always completely understand what research outcome(s) determine success at the beginning of an assignment.  We now engage the internal research departments and research agencies at the onset of the project and have them pre-align on the success factors.

We also have the research agency demonstrate exactly how the results will be achieved because we find that not all methodologies are properly grounded.  Lastly, we ask the brand owners to ensure that the research companies do not make recommendations as that is not their skill-set.  The results should be delivered without passion or prejudice and the decisions should be made by those that are involved more deeply in the entire process.

Martha Cotton, Gravity Tank:

People ascribe complex and nuanced meaning to brands, and you do research to understand those dynamics.  But at the end of the day, you should do research to help you make decisions.  If research is not helping you make decisions, you haven’t become over-reliant on research, you’ve just done bad research.  It’s all about the intent behind your research-a sense of what you’re doing it for.

[Research] could cause strife if it’s treated like the means and the end, rather than just the means to an end.  You shouldn’t do research as a gate, or because you’re supposed to do research.  It should help you understand and decide.

Larry Light, Arcature:

In a world where marketing activities and budgets are being squeezed by limited resources, there is a trend to over-rely on metrics to substitute for a lack of experience and justify the value of marketing (though, if the value of marketing and creativity need validation within the organization, the organization has a bigger problem than can be solved through measurement).

Disciplined research is an important contributor to effective business management. But, research alone cannot be creative, cannot be innovative. Creative ideas require creative insight. Real, actionable insight will not come from superior data analysis. Such analysis provides understanding of where we are and how we got to where we are. It does not provide insight into what kind of future we can create.

Effective brand management is not about selecting the safest option. It is about identifying and implementing the best option. Processes do not make decisions. Metrics do not make decisions. People make decisions. We must get the balance correct.

For more on marketing metrics, click here