How insights can be the engine of a Customer-First strategy

A friend of mine asked a great question recently. It was this: “You are always saying that market research and insight teams have a great opportunity to lead the customer-first initiative. But how? We’ve already got too much work and anyway people don’t listen to us.”

I laughed, because he had brilliantly summed up the advantages of a customer-first strategy for all of us, whether on the client supplier side. Let me explain.


A customer-first strategy in its simplest form means making the customer a priority in an organization. Easy to say, I know, but quite hard to do. In reality it involves thinking customer first in everything you do. I suggest to my clients to always ask the “magic question” take a decision. It is “What would our customers think of the decision we have just taken?” If they wouldn’t like it, then it should be reconsidered.


Customer centricity is a journey not a destination. It is founded on a deep understanding of the customer. Who best, therefore, to lead the initiative than market research & insight?

Whether an organization is looking to update its vision and strategy, reposition it brands and innovate better, or improve its communications for increased engagement, the company needs to understand the customer.


According to the latest ESOMAR research, the market research industry is flat if not already declining. I believe there are a number of reasons for this.

Businesses no longer rely on market research alone to gather data about the market and its customers. Information is now flowing into organisations from multiple sources, like never before.

Also when the going gets tough, market research budgets are amongst the first to be cut. This suggests that the work is not seen as of sufficient value.

A customer-first strategy relies on insight at its very foundation, so who better to lead the initiative? However, this means that we need to get out from behind our desks and earn three new skills:

  1. Socialise. Most market researchers are happier sitting behind their desks than talking to people. Invite colleagues to lunch and share your latest findings or ideas. Become the sort of person others want to “pick the brains” for brainstorming and solutions.
  2. Synthesise. Stop telling everything we know and start sharing short, precise knowledge that answers business needs and challenges.
  3. Surprise. It’s time to share all the information we have, which rarely gets communicated outside of project results reporting. What a waste!

The flood of data flowing into organisations will forever increase, as long as smart chips are being integrated into everything. If we don’t stand up and claim our expertise in analysis and customer understanding, someone else will. The clock is ticking!

Denyse_Drummond-DunnDenyse Drummond-Dunn

Founder, President and Chief Catalyst





The Australian Market and Social Research Society is linked globally to 45 associations through its partnership with the Global Research Business Network (GRBN) and the Asia Pacific Research Committee (APRC). Click here to read about the AMSRS global network. This article is originally sourced from GRBN website.

About AMSRS 386 Articles
The Australian Market & Social Research Society Limited (AMSRS) is a not-for-profit professional membership body of over 2,000 market and social research professionals who are dedicated to increasing the standard and understanding of market and social research in Australia. The Society assists members to develop their careers by heightening professional standards and ethics in the fields of market and social research.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.