Why Market Research should focus on the job to be done

I have never really understood why so many people in the market research industry make such a song and dance over the difference between qualitative research and quantitative research.

You can understand the commercial reason to differentiate but actually the focus should be on the needs of the client and providing them with the information they need to make a decision – if that means 400 telephone interviews, observations at a number of shops and in-depth desk research (every study should include desk research) then so be it. A good researcher should have a grounding in a wide variety of methods or more importantly know someone who is an expert.

Perhaps the evolution of “data science” and the widespread (ab)use of the term, gives market research an unique opportunity to focus on providing the client with the sort of information they need.  I can say that because by limits knowing what tests are appropriate for analyzing the data collected and if I do not I will recommend a number of people to speak to.

The “Jobs to be Done” framework is particularly effective at cutting through data paralysis or providing an overview of the key elements of market research in a single place (customer need/desire, customer journey, communication, customer satisfaction etc.).

More importantly it keeps things simple and focused on the central issue that the client has and give them confidence in the answers that are provided (through a robust process from sampling to analysis).

Two decades ago, an academic told his MBA class that 40% of research in the UK was fit for purpose –  and that was in the days before Survey Monkey and automation tools made the process perceptively easy!

Anyone can write a questionnaire, but writing a good questionnaire (one that is engaging, targeted and provides the data needed to resolve an issue) is much harder.

Big data is a massive benefit to the market research industry, when the information is robust and comprehensive but for clients to get value out of the industry they need to know when they are collecting information that is not useful.

One of the first rules of archaeology is never to dig unless you absolutely need to helping clients understand where and when they can reduce the information they demand from customers is becoming as important as helping them to understand what they define what they do need.

That is where the value of the Jobs to be Done framework comes into its own whether it is used alongside big data, ethnography or the net promoter score.

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