by Nigel Hollis
On a recent visit to Bangladesh I took part in a roundtable discussion on the use of research in advertising development. The consensus opinion appeared to be that good gut feeling was more important than research when it came to developing advertising. But that raises the question of how do you develop good gut feeling?
One of the reasons that I think the round table participants were so comfortable with making judgments without recourse to research was that the majority were all senior, experienced business people used to making risky decisions in the process of building their companies and brands. So their comfort with risk was high to start. Aftab Khurshid, Marketing & Brand Catalyst, put it this way,
“First of all, gut feeling depends on how many years of experience a marketer has or how observant he or she is. If I have doubts or if I have to make a more confident decision, it is critical to take up formal research which is objective oriented – clear and focused regarding what results it wants to achieve.”
Then there was the fact that everyone except for me was intimately aware of the nuances of local culture that could make or break how well an ad performed. This is one of the challenges that face multinationals when they enter a new country; it is difficult to replicate the same cultural understanding that is possessed by the locals in a short period of time. However, Nazmul Karim Chowdhury, Senior Vice President and Head of Brand, The City Bank Limited, noted that research can help even locals develop gut-feeling,
"Research allows me to have the gut feeling and experience to take bold decisions over time."
And Asif Iqbal, Executive Director Marketing at Meghna Group of Industries, stated,
“When you are in doubt, when you do not know whether the positioning or the communication message that you would like to deliver will connect with consumers, you research on whether your method will work or if there are other ways of doing it. If you have second options, go back, and do a preview test to see if it is justified.”
For me research is an input to decision making that can help improve productivity and reduce the risk of a bad result. While the local marketers in Bangladesh might doubt the payoff of applying a consistent program of research others have a different viewpoint. Recently, Roberto Cymrot, Group Director/Knowledge & Insights at The Coca-Cola Company, revealed that the company’s marketing-based modelling showed in-market effectiveness was rising by a significant amount after the implementation of a global consistent program of pre-testing with Kantar Millward Brown.
But what do you think? Is research only necessary when there is doubt about something or should it be implemented on a more consistent basis? Please share your thoughts.