Project Success in the Insight Economy™

The Insight Economy has raised the bar for researchers on both the supplier and buyer sides of the business. With access to more data and more innovative methods at our disposal than ever before, we expect more. Buyers of research want suppliers to help them get closer to their customers and uncover insights that lead to transformative business platforms. Suppliers crave closer partnership, clarity and engagement from their clients to live up to the increasing demand to deliver smarter, faster and more economically. A new model is required to live up to these expectations—one that requires reimagining the provider-client relationship. It is only with true partnership between providers and clients, as well as collaboration across organizational functions, that research projects can live up to the promises of the Insight Economy. At Shapiro+Raj, we are fortunate to have many great clients. Through our partnerships with them, we have identified four principles that we believe are the keys to success.


  1. Start with what you know.

Many research projects boil the ocean in search of magic bullets and unicorns. The result? Uncovering what you already know and 200-page decks filled with data that no one uses. The new mantra should be: Don’t spend a dime on what you already know. That means tapping multiple data sources across the organization that can establish context on the company, category, competition and customer to determine what it is you really need to know. We now always begin our projects with a meta-analysis of existing data and knowledge synthesis before engaging in any primary research. In some cases, once we’ve helped connect the dots, it’s clear that there isn’t a need to engage in primary research at all. More often there is a need, but this initial step makes the primary research more focused, strategic and high impact. This should be the new normal.


  1. Don’t do research. Solve problems.

There’s a common denominator to great projects that exceed expectations—having a distinct problem to solve. Too often research becomes a fishing expedition—hoping a single data point or a respondent’s comment will magically light a path forward. Unfortunately, research can’t replace the hard work of teams identifying what levers can be pulled to move the business forward. Clients that are clear about what they know, what they don’t, and what they need to solve for get the most out of their research investments.


  1. Plan for tomorrow, not for today.

Some say that historically, at its best, Market Research was able to describe today and at its worst simply described yesterday. What our industry really needs is to help predict tomorrow. Thanks to behavior economics–inspired methods, we’re getting much better at that. We are no longer at the mercy of relying on consumers—most of whom can’t tell you what they had for breakfast yesterday—to self-report on what they like and how they would behave under certain circumstances in the future. Now, we can put people into experiments and watch them behave. Going beyond traditional methods and incorporating behavioral science moves a project away from merely reducing uncertainty to predicting outcomes.


  1. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.

Great strategic research and insights cannot be outsourced—it is a collaboration. It is incumbent upon research providers to help their clients bring the right people to the table to contribute to the framing of the research, demand engagement of those stakeholders during the project and keep them informed of learnings throughout the entire project. While we once thought of a final report as something we delivered to clients, we now treat it as something we create together. We have done our best work when we have included clients throughout the process. And they have found these to be most rewarding projects to work on as well.


At Shapiro+Raj we love where this industry is going. Through strong partnerships, we are helping our clients uncover the kinds of commercially viable insights that inspire business-building ideas to move people to act. The result? Insights professionals are having more impact on their businesses because suppliers are better equipped to deliver the kind of high impact work that leads to action. We are all feeling more fulfilled with a strong sense of purpose…because we are working together.