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Training Can Propel Market Researchers from Order-Takers to Trusted Business Advisors


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Market Research and Analytics organizations increasingly serve expanded global regions, supporting complex product portfolios with brands spread across lifecycle stages in diverse country marketplaces. This creates a pressing challenge: how best to efficiently and effectively train, educate and develop skilled Market Research professionals who can serve and inform the global enterprise.

Best Practices, LLC conducted this cross-industry benchmarking study to probe critical experiences, winning strategies and important resource trends regarding how best to develop and deploy Market Research Training and Development in today’s increasingly complex global marketplace with ongoing resource constraints.

As resources shrink, companies must develop organizations that can turn out high performing market researchers effectively and efficiently, regardless of their location, specialty or service area. Market Research leaders can use this study as a reference point in future budgeting and strategic planning.

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Training Can Propel Market Researchers from Order-Takers to Trusted Business Advisors

  1. 1. From Classroom to Boardroom:Training Can Propel Market Researchers from Order-Takers to Trusted Business Advisors Best Practices, LLC Strategic Benchmarking Research BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC
  2. 2. Table of Contents (of full report) Executive Summary 3  Research Overview 4  Participating Companies 5  Key Findings 6  Key Trends Observed 9 Market Research Must Undergo Transformation: Training Can Help 10 Market Research Skills Training 14 Effective Approaches & Tools 21 Increased Outreach Requirements Drive Training Differentiation 32 Program Sustainability Is High Priority in Time of Flat Budgets 40 Operations & Effectiveness 52 Case Examples & Proven Practices 57 Pitfalls to Avoid & Key Lessons Learned 61 Market Research Training Excellence 64 Verbatim Responses: Pitfalls, Lessons Learned & Best Practices 67 Appendix: Participant Demographic Data 75 2 Copyright © Best Practices, LLC BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC
  3. 3. Research Project Objectives, Methodology & ResultsBest Practices, LLC conducted this cross-industry benchmarking study to identify best practices andinnovative methods for developing Market Research training excellence while improving thefunction’s global outreach and holding down costs. Study Overview Topics Included  Research Objective: This cross-industry study  Skills for which MR training is provided investigates how Market Research (MR)  Training Channels most effective for MR organizations at leading companies are training  Percentage of MR FTEs trained staff effectively in today’s environment of increasing globalization and shrinking resources.  Differences between MR training for headquarters vs. regional staff Research findings provide industry metrics that  Average MR training budget can serve as a reference point for MR leaders in  Anticipated trend in budget levels for MR future budgeting and strategic planning. training in the next 12-24 months  Primary funding sources for MR training  Methodology: Best Practices, LLC engaged 41  Average # MR FTEs Market Research & Training leaders at 35 companies through a benchmarking survey  Key Ratios: instrument. In addition, research analysts  Cost of training per FTE trained conducted deep-dive executive interviews with six  Hours of training per MR FTE selected respondents to collect qualitative data  Training spend as % of MR budget and insights.  Best Practices, Pitfalls & Lessons Learned BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC
  4. 4. Participating Companies Represent Nine IndustriesForty-one benchmark survey respondents from 35 companies participated in this study. Nearly half aredirectors, senior directors or vice presidents, and 78% are based in the United States. The participantsrepresent nine different industries. About half work in Market Research, one-third in Marketing and therest in other functions. Benchmark Class: Pharma / Biotech / Medical Device 61% Consumer Products 10% Manufacturing 10% Energy 5% Finance / Banking / Insurance 5% Chemicals 2% Computers (Hardware, Software) 2% Information 2% Research 2% (n=41) BEST PRACTICES, 4 ® Copyright © Best Practices, LLC LLC
  5. 5. Selected Key Findings The following key Market Research trends were observed in this study. The perceived value of the Market Research function is eroding at Perceived Value of MR many of the participating companies, where market researchers may Function Is in Decline be seen as simply order-takers rather than strategic partners. Training can help Market Research create value and earn recognition Training Can Play a Key Role in Restoring the MR from its internal clients by developing the analysts to fill new roles as Function’s Value strategic partners who help drive business results. Quantitative/technical skills are needed to build competent analysts Partnership/Advisory Role whose work is accurate and trusted. Analysts also need insight for MR Is Top Objective of development skills to improve decision support and consulting skills to Leading Teams help them evolve into strategic business advisors who partner with their clients. Leading MR Programs Interviewed participants have begun hiring market researchers for Provide Tech Skills & consulting skills over quantitative skills and offering mentoring and Consulting Training specialized external classes in consulting to evolve technical-oriented analysts. BEST PRACTICES, 5 ® Copyright © Best Practices, LLC LLC
  6. 6. Market Research Functions Evidence High Maturity LevelsThe operational maturity of Market Research functions in this study is high, with more than three-fourthsagreeing with seven of nine maturity indicators in the survey. However, there is still room forimprovement in getting a seat at the table for management planning and being viewed as a trustedadvisor to the business. Q9. How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements regarding the role and business impact of the Market Research function at your company? (Choose one.) Market Research Role & Business Impact Total Agree: Somewhat Agree Strongly Agree Market Research findings help shape going forward strategy. 66% 34% 100% MR findings routinely influence critical business decisions. 49% 44% 93% Market Research uses fact-based research to 51% 34% 85% constructively challenge management thinking. Market Research is an integral part of the Marketing team. 34% 51% 85% Market Research recommendations are usually implemented. 61% 22% 83% Market Research has a "seat at the table" for decision making. 41% 39% 80% Leaders turn to MR to discern future trends, issues & challenges. 39% 37% 76% Market Research has a "seat at the table" for management planning. 46% 27% 73% Market Research is viewed as a "trusted advisor“ to the business. 32% 39% 71%(n=41) % Responses BEST PRACTICES, 6 ® Copyright © Best Practices, LLC LLC
  7. 7. Nearly 2/3 Expect Market Research Training Budgets to Be FlatOnly 19% expect to see any budget increases for Market Research training over the next 12-24 months,and another 19% expect funding to shrink. Most predict flat budgets for the function. Q. In the next 12-24 months, what change, if any, do you anticipate regarding the level of funding your company will provide for Market Research training and development? If you anticipate budget change, specify the primary reasons. Future Budget Trends Reasons for Budget Level Changes Decrease: Increase >10% Decrease >10% • “Access to available funds” 16% 13% • “Everything is cut” • “Loss of patents” • “Overall budget contraction” Increase <10% Decrease <10% 3% 6% Remain about the same: • “Limited growth but local/regional management is supportive of ongoing training and development” Increase: • “More emphasis on building a strong MR function” • “Organizational transformation currently in process will likely include development of more formal MR training” • “Product launch” • “Significant training needs have been uncovered” Remain about • “Today training level is near to zero” the same, 63%(n=32) (n=10) BEST PRACTICES, 7 ® Copyright © Best Practices, LLC LLC
  8. 8. Technical Skills Are Primary Focus of Market Research TrainingFundamental MR technical skills are covered by training for market researchers at 77% of companies,while 62% train staff in using advanced methodologies. Project management is the most frequentlyoffered management skill and oral presentation the most common of communication skills taught bybenchmark participants. Q11. Select the skills training topic(s) your market research colleagues receive training on. (Choose all that apply.) Market Research Skills Training TECHNICAL SKILLS: Fundamentals of Market Research 77% Advanced methodologies (e.g., 62% conjoint, segmentation) Secondary research sources & uses 56% Forecasting 44% Insight development 38% MANAGEMENT SKILLS: Project management 56% Leadership skills 49% Moderating interviews 28% COMMUNICATION SKILLS: Oral presentation 54% Report writing 33% Negotiation techniques 26%(n=39) % Responses BEST PRACTICES, 8 ® Copyright © Best Practices, LLC LLC
  9. 9. Training Offerings Must Balance Breadth and DepthOn average, market researchers receive company-sponsored training on six critical skill sets. Forty-five percent of respondents train market researchers on three to five skill sets. Prioritizing the mostrelevant skill sets for a company’s Market Research staff can help training programs balance thebreath and depth of offerings. Q11. Select the skills training topic(s) your market research colleagues receive training on. (Choose all that apply.) Number of Skills on which Training is Offered per Company 13+ Skills, 3% Max 13 1 to 2 Skills, 8% 75th Percentile 7 9 to 12 Skills, 18% Mean 6 Median 5 3 to 5 Skills, 45% 6 to 8 Skills, 28% 25th Percentile 4 Min 1(n=40) BEST PRACTICES, 9 ® Copyright © Best Practices, LLC LLC
  10. 10. Classrooms Are the Most Heavily Used Training ChannelClassrooms are the top channel for training market researchers in management and communicationskills and are just behind conferences as the most frequently used channel for technical training.Technical training inspires multiple approaches, with three different channels used by a majority of thebenchmark class. Q17. Which channels are used to provide training in each of the following skills categories? (Check all that apply.) Training Delivery Channels Used Technical Skills: Management Skills: Communication Skills: In-person/ corporate classroom 67% 64% 59% One-on-one mentoring/ coaching 49% 44% 44% Professional/ industry conferences 74% 33% 26% On-line/ web-based modules 54% 28% 36% On the job/ special assignment training 44% 36% 31% Independent self-study 36% 33% 31% Mobile applications (e.g., podcasts, 33% 18% 23% webinars) University/ college certified MR 23% 21% 15% programs Virtual/ electronic classroom 13% 8% 8%(n=39) BEST PRACTICES, 10 ® Copyright © Best Practices, LLC LLC
  11. 11. One-Third Report Same Training for HQ & Non-HQ StaffOnly 17% of companies described differences in training offered to Market Research staff reportinginto headquarters vs. other locations, while half were unsure whether differences existed. Q29. Does the implementation or content of MR training vary between colleagues who report into a headquarters/ centralized/shared services Market Research function and market researchers who report elsewhere? How? Training for Headquarters vs. Country Operations How training is different.... Different, 17% • “Driven by manager-identified requirements.” Same, 34% • “Each country is responsible for MR training of its staff.” • “No need to study cross country/currency analysis, regional or global level trends.” • “Regional colleagues do not participate in annual Unsure, 49% two-week global MR training program.” • “They dont get trained on online software or SPSS.” (n=35) BEST PRACTICES, 11 ® Copyright © Best Practices, LLC LLC
  12. 12. About Best Practices, LLCBest Practices, LLC is a research and consulting firm that conducts work based on the simple yetprofound principle that organizations can chart a course to superior economic performance by studyingthe best business practices, operating tactics, and winning strategies of world-class companies. Best Practices, LLC 6350 Quadrangle Drive, Suite 200 Chapel Hill, NC 27517 919-403-0251 BEST PRACTICES, 12 ® Copyright © Best Practices, LLC LLC