4 Reasons Agile Market Research is Critical

Research. Refine. Improve. Win!

Many times marketing teams are forced to choose to use their gut instinct instead of utilizing consumer insights. This is most likely because executives fear this type of research will be dense, expensive, and lengthy. Agile market research is a pragmatic approach that leverages fast, flexible, and affordable research tools to identify the best concepts and copy to optimize their development via rapid iterations.

These four mini-case studies illustrate the differentiations of agile market research. 

1. Be Ready

The ability to recruit a highly targeted audience means that researchers are getting the most relevant insights for their current project.

A few years back, Netflix decided to no longer offer DVDs and streaming as a bundled package. This resulted in aQ314-Blog-4Reasons-Netflix-091614 60% price increase for many customers. The customer backlash cost Netflix over $800,000 in lost subscriptions and led to a plunge in its stock price from $300 to $64. Founder and CEO, Reed Hastings assumed that market research had been done.

Pricing updates are complex and usually have heavy research to support any changes, unlike gut instinct decisions. Netflix provides a cautionary tale defending the importance of pricing research.

2. Always Measure

With multiple fast iterations, a nimble marketing team has the opportunity to learn from a variety of customer segments. This allows an efficient and valuable learning process with in-depth findings. For example, it’s hard for consumers to immediately adjust to a new brand logo when it undergoes a redesign. However, with a three-day online community, it can produce rich qualitative commentary that a brand would not receive with more lengthy, traditional research methods.

Q314-Blog-4Reasons-GAP-091614As an example, GAP used an “internal focus group” to develop a new logo a couple years ago. The new creation was widely scrutinized on social media. Slate magazine even dismissed it as “the emblem of some failed low-fare spinoff of a major airline.” Speaking to Ad Age, GAP spokeswoman, Louise Callagy said: “the retailer has been surprised by the response to the new logo, which was received well internally.” After  eight days, the new logo was abandoned. This situation could have been easily avoided if the internal team sought more in-depth qualitative feedback.

3. Speed Wins

Launching a new ad campaign can take so long that the research process is often left out; however, agile research can produce results in remarkably short time frames that just might help avoid critical oversights.


Pearl Izumi sought to highlight the competitive advantage offered by its running products by showing a man exercise with his dog to the point of the canine’s death. Qualitative concept testing would have revealed the strong negative emotions evoked from the public as a result of the ad, including backlash from PETA and the national news.

4. Take Action


Agile market research blends the use of quantitative and qualitative tools to attain both broad market feedback as well as highly prescriptive feedback. This is in terms of “why” customers answered a particular way as well as “how” to improve the item in question. Brand extensions may make sense when tested with an unbranded company, but the brand halo is key, and its scent, or impression, will impact consumer perceptions of concepts.

In 1988, BIC launched fragrances for men and women. The bottle design resembling that of cigarette lighters proved too much for most consumers. With proper research, the sentiment would have been discovered early and have prevented the company from discontinuing the product in major markets in 1991.

So what?

Agile market research can be leveraged throughout the entire development process, including products, packaging, advertising, and other communications. Don’t make the same mistakes that other brands have made when choosing to follow a gut reaction.

To learn more about how agile market research can apply to your brand, download our complimentary eBook!