DIY research

Why Researchers Shouldn’t Be Afraid of DIY Research

Ask most any researcher what they think of DIY research and the answer will probably involve some grunts and groans and maybe even an expletive or two. That’s because most professional researchers are afraid of it. They see DIY research—in which client-side researchers conduct research projects without the assistance of an outside market research professional—as a threat to their careers, not to mention a joke to their profession (despite the fact that many client-side researchers have experience in the market research industry.)

But it’s time to stop being so negative about DIY research, explains Dana Stanley in a recent post on the Research Access blog. “Enabling customers to make choices is a very good thing,” she says. “Thanks to the Internet and technology, we are in a new age of customer empowerment. Some form of DIY is an inevitability in nearly every industry.” (Driving that inevitability in ours is online research software, as well as other online qualitative research tools.)

But that doesn’t mean DIY research will replace the need for market research professionals. “There will always be an important role for trained research consultants,” she says. “Smart companies know when to bring them in and when they are superfluous.”

And when they get it wrong? Well, they’ll pay for it— “Those who misuse DIY research will fail just as do those who misuse assisted research.”

DIY Research: Boom or Bust?

There has been a lot of chatter in the past several months about the supposed rise in DIY research among research buyers. Quirk’s recently reported that a survey by Prevision Corporation reveals that half of all research buyers have conducted DIY research in the past 18 months.

DIY research is not going away.  In fact, it is likely to increase as more tools become available to the corporate researcher and as cost and time pressures continue to mount. So, as researchers, we have to ask the question, “What are the implications of increased DIY research?” Here are some of my questions.

  • How will DIY change the structure of the industry?
  • Will easy-to-use DIY research tools sound the death knell for research suppliers?
  • Will research quality suffer?
  • Will DIY continue to grow even as suppliers find new business models that adjust to the buyers’ ever-increasing need for speed?
  • Are the implications different for qualitative and quantitative research?
  • How do suppliers need to respond to the rise in DIY research?  Or do they need to respond at all?

We will explore these and other questions in an online Meet-n-Tweet on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET/Noon PT.  The topic is: “DIY Research… Boom or Bust?”

To participate, follow the hashtag #2020Tech or follow along on Twitter at @2020Technology.

What’s Keeping Researchers Awake at Night? The Threat of DIY Research

In this month’s issue of Quirk’s are the findings from an annual salary survey. While it’s always interesting to take a look at what people are making, what struck us as most compelling about this piece were some of the open-ended, qualitative responses from respondents. The responses offer insight into what researchers are feeling challenged by and what they see as a threat to their, well, salaries.

One of the common themes among these open-ended responses was DIY research—in particular, how DIY research is threatening their jobs more than it probably should. In a sidebar to the salary survey, Quirk’s editor Joseph Rydholm does the dirty work for us, digging into some of these insights about DIY research and finding some real gems of responses. Among them:

“Just because data collection tools have become so readily available doesn’t mean using them assures good research. In my mind, it’s like saying that we are all qualified CPAs because we know how to use Excel!”

Or how about this one?

“We need to address the onslaught of ‘cheap and fast’ research that is often convenient but leads to completely incorrect assumptions. We must demonstrate the return on investment of thoughtful and considered research.”

So what does this say about DIY research? Two things: It’s definitely becoming a popular way to go. Client-side researchers often contact to 20/20 Research to develop and execute their own research projects using our suite of easy-to-use online qualitative research software platforms. But at the same time, there’s a real warning that clients eager to do their own research should heed: Be careful! Unless you know what you’re doing, your results (and your job) could be in jeopardy.

Predictions Point to Future for Online Qualitative, DIY Research

Research Rockstar’s Kathryn Korstoff launched a crowd-sourcing project late last year about predictions for market research in 2011. She created an MR Predictions site and invited readers to add their predictions, which she then opened up for voting. Thirty-five predictions and more than 700 votes later, the results are in. Here are the top 5 predictions and a few thoughts on them:

1. Combined and alternative modes of collection actually see traction. Read: Hybrid research is becoming increasingly popular and easier to do. As Kathryn says, “By combining different methods, we can maximize research’s effectiveness by overcoming the challenges that any single mode of research has.”

2. Market research reports will move online. We’d also add to that “And, thanks to online research software, become more interactive and multi-media.”

3. Panel demand increasingly driven by client-side organizations. Folks are predicting a shift to DIY and in-house research.

4. Research will be increasingly “always on” to allow fast response. The future will be less about limited snapshots and more about continuous feedback.

5. In-house research to expand dramatically. This goes back to a trend in DIY research. Whether it’s a good idea depends on a lot of things.

So what does this list tell us about the future of market research? Maybe nothing, but I’m definitely seeing two common threads — online qual and DIY research. What do you think? Anyone have other thoughts about the report?

Expert Advice: Should You Do DIY Research?

A buzzword circling the qualitative research industry right now is DIY research. If you’re not familiar with the term, it basically refers to research done by the client-side researcher, not a research firm. Advancements in technology and easy-to-use online research software have made DIY research possible, but that doesn’t mean research firms are going to become obsolete. To get to the bottom of this issue, we talked to Paul Ponsford, market research analyst at Delta Faucet Company. Paul does some of his own research in-house, but he still outsources the vast majority to dedicated research firms, so we thought he’d be a good person to talk to about this new trend in DIY research. We interviewed him for an article “Questions to Ask Before Considering a DIY Research Project.” Here’s a sample of what he had to say:

  • To succeed with DIY research, you have to have the resources (read: manpower) and the knowledge to pull it off. Make sure you have both in place before starting a DIY project, unless, of course, you want low-quality results.
  • DIY research is great when you need maximum control and want to stay close to your customers. If your research project involves these things, a client-side researcher might consider taking the project in-house — but ONLY if the resources and knowledge are there (see his first point).
  • Don’t go DIY if you’re worried about bias — even if it’s just the perception of bias. “We’re at a point where we’re pretty good when it comes to avoiding bias, but there are still some projects that I definitely want an objective third-party researcher,” he explains of the research he and his team conduct for Delta.

What do you think about DIY research? We would love to hear both from professional researchers and those of you on the client side.

Conferences Show DIY Market Research on Everyone’s Radar

Everyone wonders about the impact of DIY (do-it-yourself) market research. However, the proliferation of easy-to-use and inexpensive tools on both the qualitative research and quantitative research sides leave little doubt that DIY research will grow.

A couple of weeks ago at the ESOMAR Congress in Athens, we noticed organizations attempting to better understand the depth and speed of DIY proliferation. This week at the AMA Marketing Research Conference in Atlanta, a session on DIY research was one of the best attended break-out sessions. In addition, when talking to end-user “client” researchers, I notice that they show a high level of interest in easy-to-use solutions that allow them to save their budget and conduct more research.

Currently, most researchers think of DIY as “fast and dirty” Zoomerang surveys or maybe a large community that they can access themselves. However, DIY will grow into many other methods as social media gets easier to access, qualitative research software becomes simpler and mobile qualitative research grows.

Everyone is anxious about this trend. Research firms worry about the amount of business they may lose. End user research teams wonder how much more work will be added to their workload, yet they also see opportunities for broader research capabilities on limited budgets.

So, a significant trend to watch is the spread of DIY research and the support it gains (or loses) among the various industry players who have skin in the game.

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