data analysis

Market Research as a Key to Managerial Decision-Making

Market research provides valuable insights for marketing, but it also can fill in a portrait of corporate performance from a consumer viewpoint that can inform managerial decision-making.

Market research provides valuable insights for marketing, but it also can fill in a portrait of corporate performance from a consumer viewpoint that can inform managerial decision-making.

Quality market research is as important to management as it is to marketing. Research findings convey meaningful information about a brand’s reputation, its market position and consumer profiles that are critical to effective management strategy.

Market research provides qualitative insights into how a company is performing, which can be as valuable as quantitative data and help avoid a strictly green-eyeshade perspective on a business. Numbers don’t lie, but they also don’t tell the whole story.

Management attention to market research offers a vein of information unavailable from a spreadsheet. The numbers may show you are losing money; market research may give you a window into why.

For a brand wallowing in failure, pages of data won’t reveal how to succeed. Market research might. If your customers are the heart of your brand, checking their pulse would be a direct way to chart the way back to sales and profitability.

Employee morale can be a blind spot for data-driven research. No set of numbers can accurately depict how a workforce relates to the brand it represents. Market research can identify lackluster employee support as an impediment to marketplace success. It also can uncover employee insights, based on first-hand contact with consumers and influencers, into how the brand can succeed.

One of the most dangerous dimensions of management is lighthouse decision-making. Top management is supposed to show the way and stay off the rocks. However, locked up in a towering precipice, managers can be isolated from emerging trends and new realities.

It is not a knock on data to say it is a stick-figure picture of the health of a business. Market research can add flesh to the stick-figure statistics that paint a fuller picture of corporate health and opportunity.

Good managerial decision-making should not be muzzled by biased views of market research, which can reveal more than the seasonal color preferences or the latest toy sensations. Managers should settle for nothing less than robust research findings, from as many and as varied sources as possible.

Knowing where your customers are headed can be as instructive as where your investors want to go. Savvy investors will want to know as much about your brand’s customer journey as they do about your return on investment. Both are important. Both are interrelated. 

Multi-faceted research delivers a more comprehensive picture of business performance and opportunity. Why settle for a segmented view based on data or a focus group when you can have a composite picture of your business? Problems are complex. Research should be complex, too.

 

 

Economic Inequality Through a Racial Lens

Perceptions that racial economic inequality have disappeared are glaringly wrong, which explains part of the public debate disconnect that it has disappeared.

Perceptions that racial economic inequality have disappeared are glaringly wrong, which explains part of the public debate disconnect that it has disappeared.

Racial bias is generally viewed through the lens of race. A new Yale University study shows wealthy white people view racial equality is a fact, despite data and perceptions of low-income blacks that suggests quite the opposite.

Analyzing US Census data, Yale researchers found African Americans are the only racial group still making less money than in 2000.

Jennifer Richeson, a Yale psychology professor who co-wrote the study, said with understatement, “Our views about racial progress and economic equality are fairly inconsistent with reality. She added, “The misperception of improving racial equality is itself an obstacle to actually achieving the progress that everyone seems to be celebrating.”

The improvement people across racial and income barriers perceive is actually wishful thinking. The Washington Post reported, “The average black household made 60 percent of what white households made in 2016 and less than half of what Asians made, according to census data. For every $100 of wealth accumulated by a white family, a black family has little more than $5 – a gap just as wide as it was 50 years ago, according to federal statistics cited by the Yale researchers.”

“Wealthy whites were also the most inaccurate in estimating racial economic equality in the present,” The Post reported. “Higher-status individuals – i.e. wealthy whites – are especially motivated to perceive society as fair so they can justify their elevated status as merit-based rather than resulting from luck or discriminatory systems, researchers said.”

Richeson tells The Post, “We need to stop deceiving ourselves. It could be a lack of information, but there’s also a role of willful blindness. Wealth inequality based on race is baked into this country’s founding, and we cannot handle it. It is not that these individuals don’t work hard enough or are genetically inferior.”

It would be easy to be pessimistic about the Yale study findings, which cited “continued discrimination in housing and bank loans [that] sabotages black Americans' ability to accumulate wealth. But there’s no real policy push to fix that, because most people don’t see the extent of the racial wealth gap to begin with.” You won’t fix what you don’t think is broken.

Passage of civil rights and voting rights legislation has been deemed by some members of US society as the cures to discrimination. “It is not surprising Americans who don’t have much contact with other races and incomes have drawn false conclusions about other people's economic experiences,” according to the study. “Wealthy blacks have more racially and economically diverse social networks compared to wealthy whites, who have little understanding of the economic outcomes of most black Americans.”

The disconnect rears its head periodically, often in response to jury verdicts that acquit white police officers who shoot black men, as happened this week in Missouri.

“So many of us grew up hearing the story about America that basically said there was slavery and then that was fixed. Martin Luther King marched and then that was fixed. And then we had Obama,” Richeson said. “That’s a nice, clean story that makes everyone feel good even though it’s shockingly inaccurate."