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Internal Market Research Excellence: Leveraging Employees for Key Insights & Greater Engagement


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Market Research at leading organizations continues to evolve to provide insights into consumer behavior and marketplace changes. As part of that evolution, the Market Research are reaching out internally and using employees for some Market Research studies. The goal is to capture business-related insights and to drive greater work-force engagement.

This study examines how leading global companies leverage their employees in conducting market research. The study also probes key questions such as:

-To what extent are companies active in this area?
-Why do companies engage their own employees for market research?
-What is the value proposition driving internal market research?
-How do companies conduct internal market (e.g., to mitigate data privacy risk)?

The study provides Market Research executives, managers and supervisors with qualitative insights and quantitative metrics around the use of employees for Market Research.

Published in: Business, News & Politics
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Internal Market Research Excellence: Leveraging Employees for Key Insights & Greater Engagement

  1. 1. Internal Market Research Excellence: Leveraging Employees for Key Insights & Greater Engagement Best Practices, LLC Strategic Benchmarking Research & Analysis
  2. 2. BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC Table of Contents (*hyperlinked – click to jump to desired section) EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Research Overview Participating Companies Key Findings & Insights RESEARCH STUDY FINDINGS I. What Is Internal Market Research? Defining Internal Market Research: Approaches & Scope II. Why Use Employees for Market Research and Other Study Types? Evaluating Internal Market Research: Goals, Benefits, & Limitations III. How Do Companies Capture Insights - and Protect Employee Privacy? Data Collection & Privacy Protection IV. Who Participates in Internal Research Studies? Strategies & Tactics for Participant Targeting APPENDIX: Background Information on Study Participants About Best Practices, LLC
  3. 3. BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC Key Topic Areas Examined Include:Study Overview  Internal Market Research Programs  Governance  Study Volume, Types, & Frequency  Effective Research Formats & Settings  Internal MR Program Objectives  Evaluating Goals, Benefits, & Limitations  Participant Targeting Strategies & Tactics  Incentives  Employee Segments & Regions Targeted  Data Collection & Privacy Protection  Official Policies for Internal MR  The Role of Internal MR vs. Vendors  Quotes & Insights from the Field Research Objectives & Methodology Best Practices, LLC conducted the following research and analysis to provide critical benchmark insights into how some of the world’s top organizations leverage their own internal employees to capture critical business-related insights and drive greater workforce engagement. 3 Research Objective: This evidenced-based benchmarking study examines how leading global companies leverage their employees in conducting market research. Key questions probed include: •To what extent are companies active in this area? •Why do companies engage their own employees for market research? •What is the value proposition driving internal market research? •How do companies conduct internal market (e.g., to mitigate data privacy risk)? Methodology: Best Practices, LLC engaged 50 Market Research, Marketing, and Human Resources leaders at 46 global organizations through a survey instrument. Deep-dive interviews were then conducted with 7 executives to capture additional qualitative insights.
  4. 4. BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC Research participants included 50 executives and managers from 46 leading global companies. All study participants contributed data through a field survey. Representatives from seven large organizations also provided additional insights through deep-dive interviews. 46 Leading Companies Contributed Data & Insights to this Research Participating Companies: 4 Healthcare Industry: Cross-Industry:
  5. 5. BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC Internal Market Research refers to any study that uses internal employees to capture insights related to the core business or reflect key trends in the market. Within healthcare companies, internal market research would include any type of consumer, patient, or HCP- related study. Common examples of internal market research include the use of employees for: • Logo testing • Brand naming • Message translation review • Idea generation for niche markets Internal Market Research DOES NOT include: • Employee satisfaction surveys • Corporate improvement initiatives • Conference or event feedback Key Research Definition: What is Internal Market Research? 5 Though employees may participate in a wide variety of internal surveys and study types, this research focuses solely on studies and activities whereby companies leverage employees to gain primary market research insights.
  6. 6. BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC 2. Why Do Companies Use Employees for Market Research? Top goals include employee engagement & cost savings (see data) • Employee engagement was rated the top driver overall behind the use of internal research (esp. for HR, Comm, and D&I respondents). • Cost savings and the need to fill in knowledge gaps were also key goals (esp. for Marketing and Commercial respondents). • Ancillary operational goals such as greater research flexibility (study types and formats) and exploring the use of new research technologies and platforms are not key goals driving employee-based research. Rapid, “directional” insights seen as among the chief – & unique – benefits of conducting internal research • These kinds of insights are often most valuable in ad hoc circumstances, such as launching a new product or entering a new therapeutic area, where relevant employee feedback can generate new ideas, help guide preliminary thinking, or set the table for even deeper final external research. (see data) A cost savings benefit was observed by some, doubted by others (see data) • Achieving cost savings had the lowest highly successful rating, but was noted for being at least somewhat successful by 76% of respondents overall. • Some executives argued that cost savings from internal research are largely illusory – and that recruiting difficulties render the process more inefficient overall than if research was staged externally. Reducing study turnaround time was seen as somewhat unsuccessful by 34% (see data) • Without honoraria and other traditional incentives it is difficult to mobilize adequate participation in a short window. To stimulate quicker recruiting, one interviewee noted: “Management encouragement can engender high response rates.” Goals Center on Engagement & Cost Savings; Rapid ‘Directional’ Insights Are Among Top Benefits 6 “Our marketing team had to make a quick decision on providing direction to the organization for the color of a new product. The answer needed to provided within 48 hours. We were able to recruit members of our internal Employee Consumer research panel for the study and provided the results and a report to the marketing team within 24 hours allowing them to provide direction to the organization." -Manager, Market Intelligence
  7. 7. BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC7 (n=50) Q. Which governance role does each of the following functional groups play in your company's program for using employees and employee groups for market research? (Choose the best option for each function) MR Takes Lead Role on Internal Studies, w/ Heavy Bus. Unit & Some HR Support Internal MR Program Governance: 6% 8% 10% 10% 22% 10% 14% 36% 38% 52% 20% 52% 28% 32% 24% 64% 26% 26% 20% 2% Market Research / Business Intelligence Business Units Human Resources Sales Digital / Social Media Marketing Not Sure No Involvement Support Role Lead Role Market research teams lead the internal study program at nearly two-thirds of companies (64%). Depending on the nature of studies being conducted, business units and HR might also take a leading role (26% of companies). However, note that when neither function leads, business units are almost twice as likely as HR to be involved in a support capacity – suggesting that internal studies are more likely to be business-focused rather than motivated by a drive to boost employee engagement. Other Lead Functions: • Customer Experience • Marketing • Innovation (pharma)
  8. 8. BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC8 Q. What are the top risk areas you have encountered related to employee targeting and participation in internal market research studies – and how have you been able to successfully mitigate these risks? Data Privacy for Employees Is a Top Risk Area at ~80% of Companies By far, the biggest risk associated with employee participation on an individual level involves violation of privacy. This was cited as a top risk by 79% of companies. Furthermore, the next greatest risk involved data validity concerns (cited by 50% of companies) which can often arise as a direct result of participants worrying that data will not be kept strictly confidential – and therefore do not provide full and honest data to studies. 7% 21% 29% 50% 79% Other Lack of engagement Lack of formal program standards Data validity concerns (e.g., bias, fear of being identified) Data privacy concerns Top Employee Participation Risk Areas: Key Examples: Data Privacy & Bias Concerns “[We worry about] inherent bias from fear of being recognized for candid remarks." - Manager, Global Customer & Market Insights "Privacy: people not responding honestly due to fear that it could come back to them. We mitigated this issue by contracting an outside firm to conduct the study." - Senior Director, Market Research “There is a definite cultural fear of being honest, so we work on continued trust building (i.e., no one has gotten fired/lost income for telling the truth)." - Customer Experience Team Member "Privacy issue – we use closed plain envelope for collection that contains ALL of the respondent questionnaires." - Director, Market Research Paving the Way for Success “We don’t see any participant risks because we had obtained all the necessary internal buy-in before embarking on the exercise. Risk mitigation was the first step." - Director, HR (n=14)
  9. 9. BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC9 (n=37) Q. Does your organization maintain an official policy governing internal market research studies? Most Companies Have No Official Policy for Internal MR Yes, 41% No, 59% Official Policy for Internal MR: Surprisingly, 59% of companies currently have no official policy in place to govern internal market research studies. Of those 41% that do, this official policy type is almost always a “data privacy” one. One probable explanation for such an absence of official policy around internal MR programs is that many companies conduct studies infrequently or, if they are more frequent, are not so sensitive in nature (e.g., a patient study) that they would require strict data privacy controls.
  10. 10. BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC10 (n=26) Q. What employees does your organization target for participation in internal market research studies? (Select all that apply) 38% Tap Into Internal Resource Groups for Participation Employees Targeted for Participation: 69% 38% 12% All employees Members of existing internal resource / networking / affinity / diversity groups Other In general, internal market research studies seek input from across the organization, with 68% of responding companies noting that they target all employees. However, 38% of companies also target members of internal resource groups, such diversity and inclusion groups.
  11. 11. BEST PRACTICES, ® LLC11 Best Practices, LLC 6350 Quadrangle Drive, Suite 200 Chapel Hill, NC 27517 919-403-0251 About Best Practices, LLC Best Practices, LLC is a research and consulting firm that conducts work based on the simple yet profound principle that organizations can chart a course to superior economic performance by studying the best business practices, operating tactics, and winning strategies of world-class companies.