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Rethinking Research


By Peyton Burgess, Group Account Director

The mention of terms like research,” white paper” and study” makes many people’s eyes glaze over as they fervidly try to change the subject. However, for many organizations and brands, research, data and the insights they provide can be powerful tools to drive engagement and awareness. 

Here are a few reasons business and marketing professionals should rethink research and the role it plays:

For groups like associations, sharing market data research can help members make informed business decisions. Whether it is to introduce a new product or pivot away from an initiative, data can help ensure businesses are meeting current consumer needs and expectations, ultimately positioning all parties for success. Research can also play a key role in planning, as well as help shape forward-looking initiatives. 

Timely and relevant data and insights can help position your company and its subject matter experts as thought leaders within its industry and beyond. Take the American Pet Products Association (APPA), the leading trade association serving the interests of the pet products industry since 1958, for example. Its biennial National Pet Owners Survey, first released in 1988, is the most comprehensive consumer research study about pet ownership, pet care practices and preferences among product and service consumption in the U.S. Not only do APPA members realize the value of this survey to their businesses, but members of the media also frequently reference it for story ideas, angles and as a trusted source. From trending topics like backyard chicken ownership, to overall pet ownership data and shifts in consumer spending, reporters from regional outlets, pet industry trades, national consumer and business publications have all put data from APPA’s National Pet Owners Survey to use in recent years and look forward to the release of the newest edition.

PSCU, the nation’s premier payments credit union service organization (CUSO) and an integrated financial technology solutions provider, has used its annual Eye on Payments survey to extend its reach beyond the credit union space. For five years, PSCU has surveyed more than 1,750 credit union members and other financial institution customers to gauge payment preferences and trends as the financial services landscape continues to rapidly evolve. When initially launched in 2018, FWV worked with the organization to facilitate a New York City media tour for its CEO, chief risk officer and chief marketing officer. The FWV team secured interviews and background meetings with media outlets outside of the typical credit union trade space, including American Banker and The Wall Street Journal. We have continued to use the study as a touchpoint with these outlets, as well as to make new connections. It also helps PSCU’s Owner credit unions and other stakeholders in the space better understand their members and what consumers might want or expect from their trusted financial partner. In fact, the white paper has been one of the most downloaded materials from the CUSO’s website by numerous stakeholders.

The data and the insights garnered from surveys and other types of research can also be scaled to reach a more targeted audience or help back up claims made by your organization or subject matter experts. For example, FWV conducted a survey on behalf of Freedom Solar, a full-service solar company, that recently expanded its operations in North Carolina across the Greater Charlotte and Raleigh metros. To help with announcing this move, FWV surveyed more than 300 Raleigh and Charlotte homeowners to learn more about their opinions on solar energy. The survey results revealed major findings about N.C. homeowners’ opinions on solar that FWV used to pitch local media outlets. Freedom Solar has also used information from the survey to make sure social media and blog content is focused on what homeowners actually care about when it comes to their purchasing decisions.

As evidenced by these examples, research and data can be of interest to many parties, especially when used as the foundation for timely and compelling storytelling. It can serve as a touchpoint between organizations and stakeholders, as well as provide true value by helping guide decision making and strategic planning. Research can be powerful if put to good use. If your company hasn’t already explored it, considering how to effectively utilize research should be at the top of your to do list this year.

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