CxO Studies Based On Online Surveys Are A Mirage

2017 marks my sixteen-year stint in dealing with market research projects.

Over these years, while I’ve spent considerable time in other sales and marketing roles across various industries and geographies, my contact with market research across global markets has been constant. Such has been my passion for this and other allied domains that I spent two years in the UK honing my skills by the way of earning two masters degrees from Globally reputed universities.

This mix of industry experience and academic exposure has not only allowed me to keep on top of the latest methodologies, it has offered me an opportunity to contribute to change.

From purely offline methods to a hybrid model wherein both offline and online methods are used, the market research industry has done well to retain its quintessential ways alongside embracing the latest in technology. I have vivid memories of moving away from filling out paper printed surveys to using laptops while undertaking research on the streets of UK and door-knocking customers to seek their opinions.

Despite the above-mentioned changes, the industry hasn’t witnessed a change in how CxOs respond to surveys. Getting senior executives to fill out surveys has always been difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

In my experience, getting CxOs to contribute to a research requires a mix of subject matter understanding, well-trained researchers who can engage and probe, operational rigour and most importantly, relationships at the top. With any of these pieces missing, it means either poor or no responses to requests for contribution and/or getting insights that are both shallow and incomplete. Worse still, if CxO surveys are attempted purely using online survey methodologies, the outcomes are nothing short of bogus. Most CxOs either don’t reply or pass the survey to their juniors to fill out. Either way, the objective of understanding CxO priorities, mindset and challenges is negated and the research lacks the requisite depth and rigour.

Sadly, if you’ll look around, you’ll notice that the industry has been mis-sold to and that large brands have very well bought into this mirage. 

In my current role as an industry analyst, I’m often sent copies of CxO surveys carried out by global technology majors that quote online surveys as the research methodology. What is worse is to see the outcomes from such surveys being carried by large media houses as the gospel of truth for the topic in context.

In all these years, despite technology moving to the comfort of our palms, CxO surveys methodologies haven’t gone through a significant change. The good old ways still hold ground and anyone who tells you otherwise is misselling without a penny of doubt.

P.S.: While I would love to add screenshots of such examples from the industry, I don’t find value in name calling publicly and hence refraining. But happy to talk more on this topic in-person and share examples of such poorly executed surveys. Give me a shout and my team will take it from there. Cheers!

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