The way people do business is changing, mostly because technology is evolving so quickly. A few decades ago, marketing was much simpler than it is today. Before the internet and all the tech advancements that came with it, people watched television, read newspapers and conducted most of their day-to-day business in person, or at least via telephone.
As with everything else, the internet completely changed the way consumers and businesses handle everyday tasks. You no longer call your financial adviser to purchase investments; you simply log into a website or app, make a few clicks, and you’re done.
For most people and organizations, these changes are overwhelmingly positive. Everything is faster, simpler and easier. However, it also means that consumer behavior and marketing trends are changing more quickly than ever before. It’s a devastating change for the old-fashioned method of marketing — the one where you develop a marketing plan over the course of weeks, months or even years, expecting to implement the plan and reap all the positive rewards. That type of marketing is outdated, and the executives who have refused to adapt the new methods are left scratching their heads, wondering why their marketing strategies no longer work.
If you want to stay ahead of the game, you have to be willing to adapt quickly to current trends and behaviors. In short, if you want to succeed in today’s business world, you simply must get on board with agile market research.
What Is Agile Market Research?
Some people find agile market research difficult to explain. You may have heard it thrown around as a sort of buzzword, with no clear idea of what it entails.
The short answer is that agile market research is the process of constantly staying aware of what your customers are doing, what they want and why they want it. Then, you create a plan that meets these needs. If that sounds a lot like the old-fashioned way of marketing, here’s the main difference: agile market research is quick, and it’s constant. That’s where the “agile” terminology comes into play.
The Roots of Agile Market Research
Originally, agile market research was only used in the tech world, mostly by software developers. To keep up with current tech trends and customer needs and stay ahead of the competition, software developers constantly tweak designs, conduct regular research and implement new product designs. Eventually, the idea caught on in other industries, and now it’s spreading quickly. In fact, many people don’t even realize they’re considering agile marketing research. They just know that they feel a push to be faster and better.
How to Implement Agile Market Research
If you’re looking for a clear-cut agile market research strategy, you may be a little disappointed. This type of research doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. The strategy itself is based on the idea of constant adaptation, which means there’s no concrete method for keeping up with your target market. Instead, you must embrace these principles if you want agile market research to guide your marketing.
Focus on People
With agile market research, you’re researching people and their behaviors. Pay attention to their interactions and habits. In the end, they are your customers, so they are the ones who matter. Don’t think of your target market as a group. Instead, pay attention to the individuals.
Markets change. Trends change. In a single day, your entire industry may experience a massive change. You must be ready to adapt and embrace these changes. This is the key for effective agile market research.
In the past, market research provided a snapshot in time answer. The problem was that the process often took months (e.g, several focus groups followed by a big quant project) so that by the time you got your answer, it might already be outdated. In contrast, agile market research is small & you guessed it, agile. Quick, repetitive processes are much more effective than large-scale strategies. Think iterations, not campaigns.
Eye on the Future, Not the Recent Past
When you think of market research, you probably think of reactive polls and opinions. Think again. Agile market research focuses on evolving trends. It’s your blueprint to the future, not the past. That’s what your marketing needs!
With agile market research, the process extends far beyond the MR Department. Your entire organization is involved. Although you may have experts who help lead, everyone stays involved. If your IT or R&D managers can help, they need to be ready to jump in whenever necessary.
So, How Can Agile Market Research Benefit My Company?
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably realized that agile market research is huge. You’ve noticed companies adopting this strategy; you just didn’t know that it had a name. Take, for example, the massive success of the Pokémon Go game. It’s everywhere, and no one was expecting its popularity. However, some companies quickly embraced the change. Within days, McDonald’s recognized Pokémon Go player demos dovetailed nicely with its core demographic and announced a collaboration with its creators. That’s agile marketing led by agile market research at its best.
There’s no way to know how long the game will stay incredibly popular. But when it’s time to make another change, agile market research trends will dictate that McDonald’s should leave Pokémon Go behind and embrace the next big thing.
In short, the main reason why you should adopt an agile market research strategy is because it works. Even better, it will save you money. Those big marketing campaigns and extensive research panels cost a lot of hours and have a lot of outlay. Agile market research is much more effective and, generally, much cheaper.
A recent study states that 77% of organizations are expecting to adopt agile market research within the next year. While that number is huge, it means there are still 23% of organizations who are holding out. If you jump in now, you’ll be ahead of the curve in more ways than one. And, really, what have you got to lose?