Sunday, May 9, 2010

Providing confidence regarding marketing research

How often one hears from new marketing research clients on how could they trust that the research presented would be genuine? How often one one sees clients wonder what level of confidence could they have on the data presented and what is the support for that?

Valid questions !
Given that they are not only going to spend significant monies on research but much more because they are going to take significant decisions on the basis of data presented. All market research providers must deal with these nagging doubts at some time or other. Actually, the real problem facing marketing research personnel is not just to provide the required confidence to clients but more than that to have systemic processes to ensure that the confidence is well grounded!

In this blog, I am writing about my experience on how to ensure confidence in data collected by the fieldforce on marketing research projects.

To exploit every possible window of making some easy money is quite a human trait. Therefore, I believe that one should start with the premise that there are possibilities that your fieldforce across job profiles is looking for these opportunities and will use these incase there are no checks and balances. Therefore, the key to having genuine data lies in enforcing checks and balances in the system. Nothing new in this. Industry had this figured ages back and hence instituted systems of back checks by supervisors and field executives etc. However, the problem with these systems is that the entity responsible for delivering the fieldwork and the entity responsible for auditing the fieldwork is pretty much the same. Therefore, we instituted a system of audits by a seperate team, which has neither field personnel nor research personnel in it. This works wonderfully in curbing fake reporting. The mere thought that the work could be audited by an independent team, brings in fear of unknown and curbs the human tendency to make an easy buck.

Audit as an independent practice is still not a very developed function in the context of marketing research. This could be formalized as a completely external function to be done by traditional audit firms or bodies like MRSI. Having external audits and audit certification for agencies could go a very long in curbing doubts of clients and potential clients of marketing research.

Written by Shubhra Misra


  1. Hi ... if MRSI sets up an independent audit team, how will its members react to it? Will it have any acceptance at all?

  2. that will depend on how it is set up and how it is used. it has to be voluntary, though. it can become like ISI certification ...