The Trouble with Market Research

I see too many people in presentations naively spouting market research figures from pick-your-favorite IT consultancy. While their empirical instincts are laudable, the trouble with market research is that it’s mostly wrong, and no-one ever tells you that this year’s bold prediction was also last year’s, and it was wrong then too.

Case in point: A study back in June from AMR / CGT looking at marketing automation technologies. Here is a chart of the main findings:

In scanning the above, what is the area that seems most interesting? I’m guessing tools for “Measuring return on marketing” would rank highly. After all, only 31% of respondents are using technology for that purpose today, but 44% say they will do so in the next twelve months. That sounds like a market at an inflection point.

Or is it. Because read the text to catch a major caveat:

When looking at the same responses from a 2005 survey, the level of investment from 2006 to 2007 actually decreased despite similar claims of planned future investment.

In other words, if you had built product in anticipation of an emerging market for measuring return on marketing, you’d be dangling in the breeze. Worse yet, you’d be dangling in a declining market.