Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of an article from the Joel Rubinson on Marketing Research blog.
In larger companies, specialized insight functions may differ based on the necessity of satisfying the decision-making needs of different stakeholders. But problems commonly occur when they are not in alignment.
In an interview with Joel Rubinson on Marketing Research, Alec Maki, VP of BehaviorLens Research at InsightsNow, noted that shopper insights may serve category managers, consumer insights may serve brands, and product insights may serve R&D.
"Each insight function has a mission to break the customer into pieces that each owns and fiercely protects," he said. "But when marketing teams try to stitch the pieces into a whole, the resulting view of the customer is often incoherent and incomplete. Instead of a deep, empathetic, human picture, we get an image of something slapped strangely together — more akin to what you might see in a low-budget zombie movie."
He added, "In other words, insight functions are functionally driven to dehumanize the customer experience."
What is structurally wrong is that the foundation of customer understanding has been fractured through specialization, he argues. Brands may have experts in consumer research and shopper research but rarely do they understand each other's perspective. Digital might be foreign to both. Those who manage syndicated sales tracking data, like Nielsen, IRI, or NPD, are yet another specialty. Media companies may also see splits between "traditional" and "new" media research.
"Marketing teams are also to blame," said Mr. Maki. "They think of consumers and don't care about the 99 percent of their day that is involved with other products, services, and daily choices. We need to think of people as humans and holistically see their daily needs, concerns, and situations or we will be stuck with incremental thinking. In the real world, the end customer is the shopper is the person viewing the ad is the person collecting the coupon is the person posting to Pinterest. It's the same person."
First, Mr. Maki recommends that a brand's leaders must galvanize cross-functional insight teams, which he described as a "difficult" proposition. Second, companies must move from a fractured view of the customer to a single shared view.
"I liken this to a canvas and with each insight function being a painter — working together to paint a vibrant mural of customer understanding," said Mr. Maki. "To do this, we need common information frameworks to provide the lens from which to view the customer."
He concluded, "This type of approach provides cross-functional teams with a common, actionable view of the market. Within and across initiatives, teams can execute using the same lens of the customer, ensuring a consistent frame of reference for decision-making."
To what degree do you agree or disagree that conflicts exist between the insight needs of different departments?