The term “agile” is a relatively new addition to the market research industry. The principles of agile philosophy stem from the software development industry, but now agile market research is also becoming more popular – and with good reason. Agile’s flexible principles are about designing projects in small, easy-to-digest pieces allowing for faster, more effective feedback loops. And allowing businesses to respond in a timely manner to unforeseen challenges.
And while not completely unforeseen at this stage, 2021 has remained a challenge for many businesses. Operating in the aftermath of major historical disruption, companies need to be flexible in the way that they research, respond to and engage with their customers.
Agile market research is an approach where market research projects are structured into smaller, more frequent parts called “sprints”. Smaller sprints mean teams can change and adapt on the fly, as challenges come up. Sometimes, these are broken down into regular cyclical pieces throughout the calendar year.
In truth, this is how all good market research is carried out. Agile is just a newer way of describing it. Anyone who has been around long enough will understand that it is more of a buzzword (think “continuous improvement” which was popular in the 80s).
Flexibility, adaptability, and thinking on your feet have always stood strong – and that’s what “agile” is.
Expert market research consultants must be able to answer questions on the fly, and taking an agile approach enables that. Especially nowadays with the rise of the digital world, large yearly studies aren’t your only source of customer and market data. Smaller, more frequent surveys can be used and in fact, are needed to keep up with quicker demands and rapidly changing expectations.
Researchers can work with this by following the Agile Market Research Framework:
The ability to move and pivot works thanks to the 5 Principles of Agile Research. A variety of research studies helps to create a more engaging communication flow for your customers, making them feel understood while allowing you to gather valuable, impactful insights.
Understand the dynamic nature of product innovations, creative directions, and the strategy of your competition. Develop empathy for your customers’ needs.
Small, bite-sized pieces over periods of time allow for fast and frequent deliveries that can be adjusted quickly and efficiently. Think: Bigger ships are harder to turn.
Frequent communication with stakeholders ensures constant alignment with research goals. Fail fast and often to get accurate and honest answers.
A good foundation makes for a sturdier plan. Develop the right templates/question banks to reach the most valid answers. Communicate these findings to build trust and gain internal support.
Make time for retrospectives at the end of every project. Assess what went well – and what didn’t. Encourage and practice honest self-appraisal and make open communication your utmost priority.
Implementing the agile approach is great for your research projects, but it can have a positive impact on your organization as well. It empowers teams to experiment and improve. You could, for example:
What form would this take? Well, you could take a 150 question yearly brand survey and split it up into 15-20 question surveys, delivering each survey several times throughout the year. This picks up a more accurate pulse, assessing the stakeholders and their concerns.