Study Finds People Understand Market Research … But Don’t Always Trust It.

We in the market research industry sometimes don’t understand how our work and its product are viewed by the public. Although we are proud of our work and the contributions it makes, when we meet people outside the industry and tell them what we do, many don’t share our view and don’t trust research as much.

So London-based online market research company, Research Now, joined forces with ESOMAR (originally the European Society for Opinion and Market Research) to find out what the public in the UK, the US and Germany understands about and thinks of, market research.

Questioning over 4,500 participants, the study was one of the biggest of its kind looking into the public perception of market research.

Although it was reassuring to find that there was a broad understanding of market research in general, only 43% of the public in all three markets trust researchers with the information they provide. 

On the other hand, those respondents who said they take part in surveys regularly have a good understanding of research and are more trustful of the industry. Ultimately, what the study shows is that those with a better understanding of market research are more trustful of the industry, and more comfortable in sharing information.

Maybe we market research professionals need to do more to make the public aware of the high level of ethical conduct we follow and the way we apply it in our work.

Full details on the survey findings are available here.


Why Market Research?

I have talked with many business managers in Cambodia. We’ve talked about their possible market research needs and how they approach their overall marketing. Many times, I heard them say they don’t have a lot of marketing budget, or even no budget at all. Sometimes, I was asked to submit a proposal, but they turned it down and saying the cost was over their budget. Some businesses use their internal staff to conduct some research for them in order to save some costs. However, I noted that most companies that I met spend a lot of money on advertising and promotion. I think this is because they believe that advertising and promotion help them to generate more sales, which is obviously true. However, I always wondered how maybe just a little market research might help them spend their money a little more effectively and get a greater return on their marketing investments.

I have been thinking about this and believe that it is in fact a really good investment. Smart businesses invest in market research to help guide their decisions on market expansion, product development, advertising and promotion, new products and even recruiting new staff. Multi-national companies spend a lot of money on market research before they make any of these decisions. Market research can especially help companies to be more competitive and to take action faster than competitors, as they can recognize the current environment and forecast the future trends.

I believe the management teams of every company needs market information in order to make the right decision. You can imagine what will be the end result if the management team of a company makes a decision to take their product to a province where there is no demand for that product. The end result will be a loss of money, plus a loss of time and effort also. But if the management team in the company knows that there is no demand, they would decide not to expand. This is why market research is needed. There are a lot of examples to support the idea that market research is not really an expense for the company, but an investment instead because people who invest in it will get a good return.

In conclusion, business owners should use market research planned and conducted by market research professionals, not internal staff who usually lack extensive experience in it.  The market research professional can also give you recommendations based on the findings from their research and experience with other clients that you can use. You can find research professionals from just a quick search on Google Search or in Yellow Page Business Directories.  However, make sure you ask for some references before deciding to select one company to do market research for you. Pricing alone should not be the most important criteria you use.

Many times when you SAVE money with the cheaper alternative, you actually WASTE money getting less useful information and, quite possibly, LOSE money making the wrong or less good decisions.


Introducing the most misunderstood and misused term in advertising: “U.S.P.”(Unique Selling Proposition).

Perhaps no advertising term has been so indiscriminately and consistently (yes, I said CONSISTENTLY!) misused as U.S.P. or Unique Selling Proposition. Defined by Rosser Reeves, legendary Chairman of Ted Bates agency, in his 1961 seminal advertising book, Reality in Advertising, U.S.P. has become recognized worldwide as something that effective marketing communications must have. Unfortunately, most marketers, then and now, have only a very dim idea of what a U.S.P. really is and how to develop one.

“Father of the U.S.P.”

Reeves had developed the concept based on years and millions of dollars spent researching the effectiveness of Bates and competitive agencies’ advertisements. He effectively (and concisely) captured all that learning into what was the ideal selling idea, or what made marketing communication WORK.

Even in 1961 Reeves observed that U.S.P “is the most misused series of letters in advertising. Applied loosely and without understanding to slogans, headlines, visuals and more —in fact to most anything that advertising creators consider slightly different   from what they find in their competitors’ advertisements.”

U.S.P. — The Definition

What I hope to explain here, is that U.S.P. is a PRECISE term, and in Reeves words, “deserves a precise definition.” That definition has three parts, from which interestingly the acronym U.S.P. is derived. Imagine that!

PROPOSITION: Each communication must make a proposition to the customer. By “proposition” this means, buy this and you will get this specific benefit.

UNIQUE: The proposition must be one that competition cannot, does not or chooses not to offer. It can be a unique feature or benefit but, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, it can be derived from the uniqueness of the brand itself. This latter consideration is especially relevant in today’s crowded and many times over-regulated advertising field, where many brands within a category essentially do the same thing. Many marketers give up and say, “There’s nothing unique about my offering, so I’ll just say what it does.” Remember, there is always the possibility of being unique, as long as the BRAND’s uniqueness is capitalized upon.

SELLING: The proposition must be capable of “selling” new customers to try a product or service, or convincing existing ones to remain loyal, even in the face of new competitive offers.

So you see, every brand CAN have a U.S.P., and by doing so can have more effective marketing. Unfortunately, most SME’s don’t ever really create one. These SME’s without a U.S.P. could be described in the words of Jay Abraham, a marketing consultant some describe as “the most expensive and successful marketing consultant on the planet”, as being …“only ‘me too’, rudderless, nondescript, unappealing businesses that feed solely upon the sheer momentum of the marketplace. There’s nothing unique; there’s nothing distinct. They promise no great value, benefit, or service—just ‘buy from us’ for no justifiable, rational reason.”

This is the first in a series of posts where I will comment on and attempt to explain some of the marketing communications, U.S.P.’s and Brand Essences currently in use by branded marketers here in Phnom Penh. Next post will be my view of the very crowded, and in my view undifferentiated branded coffee shop category. I will share my take on Starbucks, Cafe Amazon, Brown Coffee, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Cost.

And after that, I will post about some marketers that I think are “doing it right.” Stay tuned.