how to prioritise your research: when to invest or spend less

by: PLAY

Consumer insight managers have a lot on their plates and a laundry list of stakeholders to keep happy. It’s exhausting, we know!

It’s no surprise that when you’re dealing with competing research timelines and teams who all want their project prioritised, you can wind up doing unnecessary research in some areas while drastically underinvesting in others.

If this dilemma feels familiar, please know you are not alone AND there is a solution.

So, if you’re wondering how best to decide where to focus your precious time and budget, read on to discover PLAY’s top tips.

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1. Focus on what's important, not what's urgent

“Research shows that people typically prioritize tasks with the shortest deadline. It’s natural to want to get deadline-driven tasks squared away and off your mental to-do list. A paradox many people face is that our most meaningful tasks are less likely to have deadlines than tasks that are relatively unimportant.” (Harvard Business Review)

To get around this problem, we suggest finding time to take a clear brief from stakeholders before spending anything. This will likely save you money in the long run as you’ll be able to make a proper judgement about the project’s significance.

Schedule important tasks, move forward with manageable baby steps (that prevent overwhelm!) and do whatever you can to get the less-important stuff off your plate in future.

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2. Communicate the desired outcome from the start

Remind your team and agency that not everything has to involve exploratory research (even though it’s fun!).

For example, you might only need to validate a slight pack change rather than carrying out a multi-stage brand health check that requires careful management and greater investment.

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3. Review and refine

Innovation is not just about looking to the future, it’s critical that brands also learn from previous projects before embarking on the next.

When you prioritise post-launch analysis, you can continue tweaking your approach while reducing the cost and risk for future projects as well as maximising the chance of in-market success. It’s a no-brainer.

Here at PLAY, we use a customer lens to help you get clear on exactly why a product either made it or missed the mark.

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4. Frontload research

In our experience, brands often spend very little upfront in the exploratory phases of innovation.

Of course, this might be fine if the business already has a lot of data or knowledge, but if not, then there is no clear pathway or goal for innovation.

We understand that this might be a strategic move to avoid pricey primary research by leaving it for the validation stages at the end (e.g. finalising product and pack). But did you know that spending more upfront can often mean simplifying at the backend, such as enabling more brief or agile check-ins to ensure you’ve delivered on the original consumer problem or goal?

This principle applies to the time you spend too. More investment in the exploration phases means less input is required during the validation phases. It just makes sense!

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5. Look for agile partners

Don’t settle for less than partners who can pivot and adjust as you craft your product, pack or concept. Why? Because that means you can craft and test when you’re earlier in the journey or not 100% complete.

If you work with agencies that are stuck on a specific way of doing things, then you might end up getting 90% of the way there before testing - and then it’s too late to turn back!

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Calling the shots

We hope this article has empowered you to make informed decisions on your future research priorities and objectives.

Whether you’re looking at investing in a collaboration to push quick sales in the short-term or a complete rebrand that will elevate the company for the long run, we know you’ll make the right call.

Over to you

When it comes to innovation research, no one does it better than PLAY. Our agile product development solutions let your audience do the talking while you do the listening to ensure authentically consumer-driven outcomes AND iconic results.

Get in touch today to kickstart your innovation projects and uncover key consumer insights that will take your creation from “ew, not now” to “wow!”.

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about the author

PLAY

As the experts in consumer-led innovation in FMCG, we partner with manufacturers and retailers to lift the productivity and effectiveness of their NPD. It’s all in how we blend innovation advisory with tailored consumer insight using an agile, consumer-first approach. Think of us like the connective tissue within your innovation process. We guide you at every step of the journey, helping you align, focus and develop ideas and products that sell.

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