Transition to Insights

Can a grass roots approach to marketing research provide better insights than big data? The big data approach to market research can be seen as:

  • Impersonal
  • In some instances unethical
  • Expensive; and
  • Resulting in large amounts of data, but not necessarily big insights

According to Bhasin (2011) grass roots marketing research can be very powerful and relies on strong customer relationships. Further, there are a number of benefits to a grass roots approach including:

  • Personalisation
  • Avoiding extensive media clutter
  • Focusing on what’s relevant; and
  • Direct engagement with your customer

Interestingly, Archibald, Murphy and Powers (2015) identify the number one trend in market research to be a ‘Transition to Insights’ as more and more people require actual insights from market research data rather than simply the data itself. Not only are marketers wanting access to insights instead of raw data there is an expectation that these insights will translate to improved decision making capability of the business (Archibald, Murphy and Powers, 2015).

So if the demand is for better insights:

  • Is there are place for both big data and grass roots style market research?
  • How can we provide better insights from each of these approaches?

4 thoughts on “Transition to Insights

  1. Great blog! I think there is a place for both. You make a good point that data is only as good as the analyses – or “insights” that one gains from it – because without that it is just data which can be fairly meaningless. Big data is probably best for gaining more generalised trends of markets and a lot of data points will even out any localised differences in those trends. A grassroots approach will provide more direct feedback on a particular product or target market, and is probably better for targeting more niche markets. It is becoming increasingly easier for companies to be in more direct contact with their customers through the internet, Amazon is an example, using information from what their customers purchase to offer other products they might also like to purchase. Providing better insights comes from understanding what the research is showing – taking care not to bias your data samples to what you want to see as opposed to what you need to see, knowing what the demographic want, and ensuring your marketing decisions are based on solid evidence.


  2. Good discussion and I wish you all the best with your essay.
    The grass root market research could provide you a greater understanding of a particular market segment, the personal touch and various other advantages. But can every business afford to do this or is it really feasible & sufficient for companies that operate in large scale globally to totally rely on grass root market research only. Of course technology plays a vital role in both grass root research as well as big data.
    Big Data opens up number of other opportunities; whether every organization is making the best use of it is a question, but eventually the trend will improve. As you have correctly stated that it is not the data but the insight you gain by analyzing the data is what really matters.

    Which way to go will be determined by the organization, the market you are targeting, the type of information you are after, etc. but combination of both will always provide a greater understanding.
    no matter which way you go or how much data you collect, success will be determined by the validity of your data and the actual understanding / insight you get by analyzing the data.

    Privacy has always been an issue with internet and it has grown beyond control.


  3. With big data comes lots of assumptions and generalisations. Every consumer is unique and you cannot divide them in certain pre-specified groups. I believe big datas are helpful while company’s policy at national and international levels. While at distributors level the grass root research would give a good insight.


  4. Great insights!!! but still this depends on the organization size and its business type. Both cannot be used at some instant like when people plan to invest on the marketing research i.e 25% of their income and when approaches included in the budget on their analytic. This can be suitable for organization which completely handles raw data of common people for to support another business (B2B) or third party vendor organization. BIG data supports massive nature of business which directly provides solution to the current problem analysis and even sometimes customized problems..


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