Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Another Way of Looking at "DIY Research"

There has been quite a lot of conflicting conversation around what DIY Research is and isn't .  Here is an article written by Dana Stanley over at Research Access that gets into the nitty gritty of the subject.

In my view, the distinction between “DIY research” and “assisted research,” as it were, is no longer as relevant as it once was.

Evolving technology has enabled a sharp increase in the number of options for researchers to “do it themselves” (including technology provided by the sponsor of this blog, Survey Analytics).

Some feel DIY is a scourge, enabling a tsunami of poorly-conceived and poorly-executed research and taking business away from market research consultants.  A few examples of skepticism about DIY research can be found in this blog post by Sean Jordan of the Research & Planning Group, and in this blog post by David Bakken of KJT Group.

Others feel it is a good development, the inevitable hand of progress and customer empowerment.  This post by Steve Quirk and this article on the MRA blog by Kathryn Korostoff are emblematic of the pro-DIY point of view.

I agree with those who feel it’s a positive development.  Enabling customers to make choices is a very good thing; in fact, there can be no other way.  Thanks to the internet and technology, we are in a new age of customer empowerment.  Some form of DIY is an inevitability in nearly every industry.

The reality is that the market is speaking.

In-house corporate researchers, who in many cases have supplier-side experience by the way, increasingly see value in tools that enable them to conduct projects without necessarily needing to hire a research consultant.

Those who misuse DIY research will fail just as do those who misuse assisted research.  Isn’t that just Adam Smith’s invisible hand at work?

There will always be an important role for trained research consultants.  Smart companies know when to bring them in and when they are superfluous.

DIY research doesn’t merit being called its own separate type of research (as the name implies).  Rather, it’s a toolset within market research – a toolset whose commonality is not requiring an outside consultant.

Right now the term is being used to divide the industry rather than unite it.  Survey Analytics CEO Vivek Bhaskaran described the term “DIY research” in another Research Access post as “a term the full service market research industry has coined [that] implies – less than professional.”  This reminds me of how in the States prominent Republican politicians often refer to the opposition party as the “Democrat Party” rather than its actual name, the “Democratic Party” because of the positive connotations with the word “democratic.”

Words matter, so let’s start referring to the former “DIY research” in a more considered way.

Feel free to give your suggestions for terminology in the comments section below.
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