Thursday, February 24th.
The world was taken by surprise in a single day, when more than 100,000 Russian troops stepped across the border, and invaded Ukraine. This triggered seismic repercussions, from shaking up global supply chains, to a slowdown in global economic growth. Look how quickly people decided not to do business with Russia or buy Russian products anymore. And according to the World Trade Organization, sharply rising commodity prices have been the most immediate economic impact of the Ukraine conflict (CTO). This sent consumer brands around the world scrambling, trying to understand the new situations of markets and consumers alike.
And us Market Researchers are now navigating the ever-changing situation of our current world, from price and production cost increases, to changing competitor strategies.
The world we live in moves fast, and constantly. Consumers’ needs don’t just stand still, and can change in the blink of an eye. That is why the most up-to-date data is vital; especially when it comes to benchmarking. As a consumer brand, if your latest data to benchmark against was from before the Ukrainian war, then you’re already behind.
Traditionally, benchmarking only tells you what’s already happened. It doesn’t show you what’s occurring right now in real time - unless you use a live-benchmarking method.
Think of static benchmarking as ‘stale data’; it was previously collected and companies use these data points to benchmark their category or brands against each other. It used to be okay, when it was the only option we had. Now, thanks to the world of technology also moving quickly, we have the ability collect data points live and at the same time we’re running a research study, making it the most up-to-date points you could possibly benchmark against.
Simply put: less-than-fresh data to benchmark against does not stand a chance in today’s world, and this is largely thanks to digitalization. The world is increasingly becoming more and more digital, which means consumer decision making is a much easier, quicker process. So it means trends can change quicker. It means people react faster to world events like Covid-19, or the invasion of Ukraine.
Think about when Cowspiracy came out. That impacted the amount of consumers who immediately became interested or turned to vegetarianism.
Or when Covid-19 immediately changed our relationship with hygiene and hand-sanitizers.
There’s no predicting when things will happen in the world that will change your consumers’ behavior. So when it does happen, you want to be able to get access to the most recent data points, so you can have the most accurate picture of your consumers behavior. And what could possibly be a more recent benchmark, than one that is live?
Shouldn’t every Market Researcher be responsible for challenging their companies’ ways of using very traditional methods? Especially when there is a more accurate way to benchmark that reflects the speed of our world today. Consumers’ opinions are rapidly changing… global organizations cannot keep up if they are not changing within themselves.
So I encourage you to be the challenger within your organization! Don’t be afraid to do your research into new methodologies or new ways of research. Every organization relies on the numbers in reports, so there is never going to be the ‘right time’ to internally evaluate where the research can be improved. But more importantly, don’t be afraid to recommend to your colleagues a better way to benchmark.