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S2Research Market Research Skills v Tactics May2020Nine in 10 (91%) marketers consider market research to be beneficial to marketing, but that doesn’t mean all marketers feel that they are good at executing research practices. A recent report [download page] from S2 Research finds that one-third (34%) consider themselves unskilled when it comes the practice.

At a more granular level, the research finds that across a host of market research tactics, the average scores for the usefulness of such tactics were far above the skill level marketers reported.

When asked to rate the level of usefulness of various marketing research tactics on a scale of 0% (“not at all useful”) to 100% (“extremely useful”), the more than 275 marketers surveyed rated tactics such as marketing metrics (89%), data analysis (89%), insights (85%), advertising/marketing testing (84%) and surveys (80%) highly. Tactics including focus groups (71%) and secondary research (70%) were ranked slightly lower in perceived usefulness.

But when asked to assess their skills in these same areas on a scale of 0% (“not at all skilled”) to 100% (“extremely skilled”), respondents rated themself on a more middling basis, scoring themselves in a close bunch not much closer to “extremely skilled” than “not at all skilled” for the following tactics: marketing metrics (56%), surveys (55%), data analysis (55%), insights (54%), advertising/marketing testing (53%), audience segmentation (53%), focus groups (52%) and secondary research (52%).

Previous research shows that data and analytics skills appear to be lacking in marketing across the board. So when it comes to market research, it’s no surprise that this is where the gap is the widest in S2 Research’s study. The figures show that the greatest mismatches between perceived usefulness and self-reported skill level occur in the areas of data analysis (34 points), audience segmentation (33 points) and marketing metrics (32 points). By contrast, the difference isn’t so pronounced when it comes to focus groups (19 points) and secondary research (18 points), though that’s more the result of lower perceived usefulness than higher skill level.

It’s not only the S2 Research study that demonstrates there’s a certain amount of capability to be desired within the industry. Separate research from The CMO Survey shows that companies rate the quality of their marketing research merely as average, giving it an average score of 4 on a scale of 1 (“poor”) and 7 (“excellent”). Regardless of the gap between capabilities and skillsets, that same survey also found that companies across all sectors plan to increase their investment in marketing research and intelligence by an average of almost 7% over the prior year.

Separately, the 2019 GreenBook Market Leaders report showed that while the largest market research companies reported steady annual growth in revenues, only around one-quarter of buyers said they were very or completely satisfied with the actionability of the market research.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Figures are based on a survey of 278 marketers in March and April 2020.

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