How to Build a Business Case for Agile Market Research

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Posted May 28, 2021
Tiffany Mullin

We’ve all experienced that moment when we present an awesome idea to our stakeholders – an idea that will inevitably save the company time and money and make our jobs so much easier – but it falls on deaf ears. 

So, how do you go from an idea that falls flat to stakeholders hoisting you up onto their shoulders in celebration of your brilliance? 

Keep your finger on the market’s pulse

After the year we just had, it should be pretty easy to make a case for agile research adoption. Everyone understands now more than ever that the world can change on a dime, Making it more important than ever to stay in tune with your customers.. One important way to stay ready for change is to shift consumer research away from long, laborious studies that take six months to complete, and by the time you have a final report, you’re left with data that’s stale and a bill upwards of $25,000 or more. 

With agile, you can conduct bite-sized research, checking in with consumers more often. This way, when the world does change, you have the flexibility to change with it. And you haven’t lost a huge investment of time and money. 

“Working in financial services, the uncertainty in the market as well as among consumers really helped us drive the support that we needed from our stakeholders to invest in a DIY agile survey tool,” said Keri Hughes, Market Research Manager of Consumer Insights and Research at Voya Financial. 

After adopting agile, Voya was able to “get out into the field more quickly, and get responses on an iterative basis, but in a more cost-efficient way,” said Keri.

Show them the money (saved)

Deborah Mendez, Insights Associate Director at Johnson & Johnson (formerly a Shopper and Consumer Insights Manager at Pharmavite), said it best. “There's definitely an advantage in showing how many resources you save in terms of both budget and time. There’s more data to be able to make a greater impact on the organization, and it’s more timely. You’re able to make informed decisions based on data rather than make decisions based on what the stakeholder believes to be true about the business.”

Agile market research solutions offer significant time and cost savings over traditional market research suppliers. Check out this infographic to see a breakdown of the numbers. And feel free to share it with your stakeholders to back up your claims. 

“Adding new tools can definitely be difficult, but showing the power behind the data and the cost savings over time really helped us build a case for aytm,” Keri explained. 

Start small and build slowly

For most of us humans, we tend to fear the unknown. It’s an amazing instinct that often helps to keep us alive. But when it comes to making progress, it can quickly become a hindrance to innovation. So, the best thing to do is dip your toe in the water to see how it feels. 

“We were able to do a pilot study with aytm,” said Keri. “That really helped us put a great use case together to support our own business case for using this tool.” 

For its Voya Cares program, the pilot focused on caregivers and how they were impacted disproportionately by COVID-19. “We were able to take this data and all these great learnings through that pilot program and build out a powerful story spotlighting that group, which helped us build that broader understanding across business lines and across the organization to show value,” Keri explained. 

You crawl before you walk. So doing a pilot study is a great way of building the business case as to why you'd want to invest in a partnership with an agile research provider. 

Ask some tough questions

Consider running a pilot around a similar study you've run previously. Compare the ease of use, and accuracy of data to build confidence in the agile supplier. Deborah recommends you “Start small with low-risk assertions, then check your data and ask some tough questions.” 

Ask your supplier things like, “How does the panel work? What panel are you using? What types of incentives work? Openly communicate with your partner until you gain that trust yourself as a researcher with the tool, and then help build that trust among your stakeholders,” suggests Deborah.

Overcoming the hurdles of understanding and trusting the data really helps build a case for adopting an agile approach and defending the cost of adding another tool. There may be some time that needs to be invested on the front end, but if you choose the right partner with a platform that’s easy and intuitive to use and a support team that’s there to help you every step of the way, the investment will quickly pay for itself. 

Demonstrate value

Building a strong business case for agile is easy when you demonstrate the value. Tapping into an agile tool keeps you in tune with your consumers, always listening and learning. It keeps your business up to speed on ongoing changes in buyer behaviors. 

“Help your stakeholders understand how these insights can be used across the organization and how it makes your firm more nimble, more competitive, and more responsive in terms of what consumers are looking for,” said Keri.

Want help gaining buy-in from your stakeholders? Read our white paper: How Agile Transformation Increases the Influence of Insights Teams

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