Conducting a market research study is a significant investment of time, money and resources. And getting to the end of a successful research study is a major achievement. But how do you truly define the end of a study?

This gets us into a gray area. Often, a study starts with determining the key business questions to answer, followed by drafting questionnaires, fielding research and crafting findings and recommendations. Much too often, momentum fades once findings and recommendations are presented. However, the end of a study should not be marked by sharing results – it should be marked by taking action based on the findings.

Consider how actions will be taken with the results of a market research study well in advance of the end of the research. Action plans can be drafted at the very beginning of the process based on goals and hypotheses. Layout key actions to be taken as a result of the research and structure the action plan for decision-making. So, for example, address how messaging and marketing decisions will shift based on the results of the study. Or how product development decisions will be made based on the results of the market research.

After fielding a study and reporting findings, the action plan should be revisited. Market research captures a snapshot in time and thus taking action sooner rather than later is imperative. The action plan should include an action or decision for each of the key research questions and a definitive implementation strategy. So, for example, if the results of the study show key consumer groups spend most of their time online, a digital marketing action plan can be developed to reach those consumers online. Once implemented, the action plan should be monitored over time to validate the actions taken and determine if additional research is needed.

Making action top-of-mind for all stakeholders from beginning to end of a research engagement ensures insights will be used for decision-making.

Process for Action-Focused Research