Is Consumer Insight an expense or an investment?
Have you ever wondered about this question? In my experience, consumer insights was always budgeted as an expense line within a P/L. Even if its part of the marketing budget, consumer insights is allocated as non-working dollars. The implication has been that these budget line items are held to zero or low growth when it comes to budget planning. To me, the budgeting process is a reflection of how the company views the role and value of consumer insights (see earlier post). And this drives organizational behaviors.
For starters, consider the following what-if scenarios and you can decide if you see this as an investment or a cost.
What if you are trying to identify where the industry is headed in the next 5-10 years? The answers to these questions will help shape your strategies and specifically your innovation program. Based on this knowledge, you are placing bets on the strategic direction for your business.
What if you are trying to understand the current competitive landscape? You think your innovation program will meet your customer needs, but you're not sure how your competitors are meeting those needs, or are there new competitors that are emerging through some form of disruption which you may not be aware of.
What if you could confirm the potential for your next product launch? Is your product positioning targeted at the right customer needs? Or are there opportunities for potentially missing the mark?
If the answers were known ahead of time, could that have saved time and money? If the answers strengthened the organization's intuition about their customer, would that have resulted in a stronger innovation program?
So can anything be done?
Re-looking at how budget allocations are made and the type of organizational behaviors that result, is the role that the CMO, CFO and VP of Insights and HR should be engaged in discussing. This could lead to improving decision making, simplifying work processes and improving employee engagement. Perhaps some companies have already figured this out, I'd love to hear your experience!