Should Market Researchers Have a Seat at the Table? 8 Executives Weigh In

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Posted Feb 10, 2021
Tiffany Mullin

Once viewed as data gatherers, market researchers have transformed into gatekeepers with key insights into a brand's market, products, and more. You have a unique view into the lives of your company’s target audience. You collect the raw data, analyze it and provide insights into what the information means to critical stakeholders.

Based on this new, more modern role of market researchers, it's no surprise that most people in a recent discussion noted that insights professionals should have a seat at the metaphorical table with key executives within the business.

However, even in our informal study, there was no unanimous consensus, and some highlighted the challenges presented to market researchers as you attempt to garner more influence.

The Value of the Insights Department

Getting different perspectives in front of the leadership team is perhaps the most valuable role the insights department has, that's exactly why Bart Turcyznski, Editor-in-Chief at ResumeLab, refers to insights teams as “leadership sanity checkers.”

Lev Mazin, Co-founder and CEO of aytm, also points out that “Consumer insights professionals ideally have immunity to the business' internal political biases. They can anticipate a tectonic shift, be the voice of conscience, promote empathy and provide invaluable context in the decision-making process otherwise limited by dry numbers, internal organizational logic, or business intuition.”

Matt Bertram, CEO and SEO Strategist at EWR Digital, added: “We rely on our insights department to bring our customer’s voice to our decision-making process. This allows us to utilize our data to better appreciate the needs of our customers and make informed decisions that will drive our growth.”

“Market research helps facilitate strategic planning and implementation. Hence, helping in staying ahead of the competition.” Says Avinash Chandra, founder and CEO of BrandLoom. “It comes in handy in understanding customers’ needs and demands.”

Reuben Yonatan, the founder and CEO of GetVOIP, believes that “Executives should always include the insights department anytime they meet.” The role that they play is critical. Yonatan says, “The insights team should be at the center of any decision-making. They have the data and insights to help the company make highly profitable decisions.”

Companies are increasingly recognizing their market research team’s critical role. For example, you will often find the head of market research playing an active part in other aspects of the company, such as sitting on committees for product planning, marketing strategy, and long-range planning.

The Argument Against Giving Market Researchers a Seat at the Table

While most businesses agree that market research is valuable, others note that information and analysis are unnecessary for every decision in a company.

Daniel Cooper, Managing Director with, for example, points out: “Whether market researchers should have a seat at the table is dependent on the structure of the company.”

He makes a distinction between companies that use insights for daily decisions and those that only use them for future planning. Cooper states: “If the insights team is to help plan for future actions, such as those two or three years into the future, then, no, they should not attend every meeting, just a select few.”

Charly Suter, with KMU Digitalisirung GmBH sees the insights team's involvement on every decision as a hindrance rather than a helpful resource. “Following market research along is liking driving a car but focusing only on the rear-view mirror. It will not work. You need to have at least one eye on the street ahead.”

How the Insights Department Can Stake its Claim

If your insights department owns the role of a strategic partner, you should certainly be involved in decision-making. But, Turcyznaski also notes that getting input from market researchers heard by leadership can be a challenge.

Former Research Director, Darcy Wilson, agrees. She indicates that “the hardest thing about marketing or marketing research is getting executive buy-in. Having a seat at the table allows the executive team to really understand and see the value in what we do.”

Turcyzaski suggests using storytelling as a means of communicating findings. “Buy-in is critical, but getting buy-in with leadership might require such teams to speak their language of vision and potential beneficial futures.”

Rather than simply presenting insights, offer a recommendation and then back it up with hard data.

Data storytelling is a great way for your insights department to boost its influence. After all, executives are far more interested in what the research tells them about products, planning, or successes, rather than the numbers themselves.

There's an old proverb that goes, "If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain." So, instead of waiting for leadership to offer you a seat at the table, pull up a chair.

Ready to stake your claim? Download our white paper on Increasing the Influence of Insights Teams today.

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