The agile manifesto changed the way software was developed by taking an iterative approach. Rather than complete a major scope of work–and encounter inevitable delays and setbacks–agile developers push their work forward incrementally.
This results in a product that's continually improved without being subject to the delays and setbacks that define traditional release periods. What's more, the product is released sooner for a competitive edge in the marketplace.
By applying an agile mindset and the right tools to their work, market researchers can solve their most pressing pain point: a mismatch between customer research and product development that means lengthy reports frequently go to waste.
Let's review what agile market research means and why it's so important.
What is Agile Market Research?
To understand what separates agile market research from the traditional market research process, it's important to understand the process and benefits of agile development. Agile software developers aren't taking shortcuts to get a version released.
Instead, they are moving the process forward when there's enough data to make a viable decision, rather than working through a checklist of mandatory steps.
Not only does this approach save time and resources, since employees can move to the next part of the development process as soon as the data indicates the right way forward, but it also boosts profits. Harvard Business Review reports that organizations that rely on agile processes across departments are 60 percent more profitable than their peers.
Turning to market research, agile can have a measurable impact on variables like product development and time-to-market. Time spent validating data in traditional market research too often leads to significant delays in finalizing reports. In some cases, final reports are outdated upon delivery because the team has already decided on a course of action!
By iterating the research process, agile market research ensures there is always timely information to act upon to deliver products at the pace the market demands.
The agile approach also encourages experimentation. When teams are spending less time on documentation, there is naturally more time to brainstorm, prototype and evaluate the response to an asset, whether it's a product or an ad campaign.
(PS: Want tips for adopting agile into your research process? Our white paper, How Agile Transformation Increases the Influence of Insights Teams, has everything you need to remodel your research environment and get your stakeholders on board. Download here for free.)
How Agile Market Research Saves Time
When teams apply an agile approach to market research, they're able to test concepts with a target audience, generate a prototype and get feedback, or gauge consumer response to a marketing campaign much faster than if they followed the traditional research process.
While agile market research tools have been around for a while, early versions of these tools were highly prescriptive. Their rigid requirements meant the tools were infrequently used. In some cases, employees may have developed a negative perception of agile market research due to the limitations of these tools.
Newer agile market research tools prioritize responsiveness and automation, reducing the rigidity that limited the application of earlier market research tools. The latest version of market research tools automate much of the process and rely on data visualization rather than static PDF reports. Team members can quickly understand trends, review feedback, and make decisions without much hands-on time simply by filtering the data.
Traditional research methodology still has its place in terms of evaluating customer response; however, teams can move faster when this feedback is delivered incrementally across design stages. Automation enables faster pivoting: when data comes in quickly, teams can act upon market sentiment in time, rather than putting effort behind a product that fails to generate the desired response by the time it's released.
By increasing access to actionable feedback, agile market research can decrease variables such as time-to-market and increase profits. Companies can learn on the fly, change a product in development before significant material resources have been invested, and decrease time to market while simultaneously strengthening the fit between their brand and market needs.
Change is certain. Embracing transformation is a trait that sets agile companies apart from those who resist change. By investing in the right tools for data analysis and decision making, including agile market research, your company can align with future trends and continue to serve the needs of your niche market.
Ready to adopt an agile, iterative research process? Download our whitepaper, "How Agile Transformation Increases the Influence of Insights Teams," for a playbook on how to get started.