The most important asset market researchers can have is the ability to see a marketplace anew, without any preconceptions about what they will find. Marketplaces change so rapidly today that making too many assumptions about how they are operating can interfere with learning where the marketplace may be heading in the future.

At Sector Intelligence, we approach the bulk of our research as an exercise in discovery, a rigorous, disciplined effort to understand what dynamics are most influencing customer behavior at any given point in time and are likely to influence behavior going forward. We look of the why of customer behavior.

We also believe that today’s market research for assertive companies should be treated as an ongoing, continuous intelligence-gathering effort, not as something that is thought of when products are being launched or business is going poorly. An ongoing discovery effort is the most promising way to increase the return on investment in market intelligence because it gives a company the best chance of spotting new revenue opportunities well before the competition. It also answers many questions that are typically asked by more expensive, periodic (and often redundant) market research efforts companies might conduct.

Discovery positions your view of the marketplace as a holistic, map-like view that enables you to see how things are working together — what is impacting what, and why.

As multi-method researchers steeped in qualitative research traditions such as ethnography and in-depth interviewing, we approach most research in the following manner, whether conducting focus groups around product preferences among a select group of consumers, or an international survey on access to healthcare. We believe in looking of the why of of behavior.

Discovery Protocol

  • Ground research in the way in which customers see the world — their reality as they organize it in their minds and in their daily lives. This give behavior proper context. This requires in-depth interviewing, participant-observation and/or the triangulation of different sources of information about the culture of consumer groups, such as online conversations and a pattern of published opinions.
  • Validate customer view through surveys, secondary research, and follow-up interviews and observation when possible.
  • Test validity of findings by continually engaging customer reaction to findings. Often, customers can not describe and/or explain their own behavior accurately, but when presented with a portrayal and explanation of their views and behavior, they can verify the portrayal and explanation. This phenomenon emphasizes two axioms of reliable market intelligence: 1) we can not rely solely on what customers tell us through surveys and even interviews; and 2) conversely, blending direct customer feedback with independent questioning and observation by trained researchers can result in an accurate understanding of customer behavior, validated by customers themselves.