Learnings about the marketing research industry can come from the most unlikely sources. And classic literature is no exception. In the spirit of Halloween, Infotools’ latest blog pays homage to this spooky holiday.
Everyone knows the classic, tragic horror story of Frankenstein. In summary, Victor Frankenstein was a student of various sciences and figured out how to bring life to a monster made from the stolen pieces of assorted corpses.
Victor’s intentions were actually good (friendship and scientific advancement), but his execution was off. Way off!
His eight-foot monster tried to integrate himself into natural life, but people were scared at the sight of him. The subsequent feelings of abandonment and shame resulted in a monster seeking revenge on his creator.
Of course, this brief summary doesn’t do the hauntingly beautiful story justice; but the idea of creating a monster from various corpses can provide lessons.
Be selective in your choice of ‘body parts’ for the best end result
While the result was tragic, Dr. Frankenstein was actually on to something. Although macabre, the idea of piecing together various parts to come up with a whole, provides the opportunity to choose the best-in-class for each individual part. (I’m sure Dr. Frankenstein used any old body parts he could dig up, rather than putting together a carefully orchestrated ensemble.)
A more real-world anecdote, highlighting the best-in-class approach, is from the classic marketing book Focus. The author Al Ries drives home the importance of companies sticking to a core competency, and resisting line and brand extensions that compete or diminish the brand’s value.
In essence, he recommends focusing all resources on what makes the business unique.
Think Chevrolet. ‘Is it a large or small, cheap or expensive, car or truck?’ The answer is, YES – all of these! Chevrolet doesn’t stand for a specific car-type in the mind of the consumer.
Similarly, how can PepsiCo compete with Coca-Cola when its brand portfolio extends from snack chips, to oatmeal, to hummus? It really can’t, with its resources and capital spread so thin among various brands and categories. Coke, on the other hand, can be laser-like in its focus on beverages.
Most importantly, what does all this mean for market researchers?
For many clients, the current integrated value chain doesn’t deliver the best value for clients. Why? Simply because there are very few companies that truly have best-in-class tools and services for each component of the research process.
What would it look like if companies chose to reorganize their research spending to allow for best-in-class services? Each supplier along the chain would be a specialist in their own task.
Research spenders would no longer be limited to the menu of current offerings by their full-service suppliers.
Breaking up this cycle would also allow companies to take advantage of the developments and resources various companies have put their energy into. As Ries tells us in Focus, there are so many resources available, it’s unlikely that full-service agencies have invested time and money to create the necessary data mining and data visualization tools.
Choosing the best suppliers for various functions isn’t even incremental spend, it’s a matter of re-allocating funds. There may very well be cost savings, as the vendors may have to spend time and money developing solutions to meet project objectives.
Importantly, it also puts clients in an empowering position to choose whatever vendor they want to work with, knowing the tools should be supplier-neutral.
Wishing you more ‘treat’ and less ‘trick’
So for future Halloweens, when there’s a knock at the door and you’re greeted by a Frankenstein lookalike, let it be a reminder that the value of your research can largely be improved on by choosing the best possible supplier in each stage of the research process.
A word of warning. Be sure not to give him too much candy – all that sugar could lead to a lack of focus!