3 Reasons Insights Leaders Should Care about Startups | The Garage Group

3 Reasons Insights Leaders Should Care about Startups


Any insights industry survey these days includes questions about perceived volatility of our profession. A recent survey asked whether this change in direction for the insights industry is a revolution or evolution. Whatever the terms, the reality is that we’re in the midst of a massive upheaval. We would love to share a bit about three specific market realities, and how startups are in a better place to respond to these realities (and in some cases, startups are the actual catalysts to pushing market research forward!). Instead of being paralyzed, though, insights leaders can embrace these realities and translate the methods that startups employ for success in today’s volatile market.

1. Uncertainty is the New Norm.

The market used to be much more certain and predictable. Market researchers used to live by the adage, “the past is the best predictor” but that’s not true anymore. Now, the time between testing and getting to market makes the research we’ve done less and less useful, sometimes obsolete, because the market has changed by the time launch rolls around.

That’s where we look to startups. Startups, by nature, expect market uncertainty from the beginning. They’re honest with themselves about the uncertainty, and stay close to the market throughout the entire product development process, iterating as they go.

Here’s what startup thinker and author Alexander Osterwalder has to say about uncertainty:


How might your team embrace uncertainty and get feedback on quick prototypes, instead of perfecting then getting feedback?

2. Faster to Market Wins.

Let’s look at one of our own industry pundits has to say about the necessity of speed in today’s research and getting breakthrough ideas to market:


We’d argue that some of the methods startups are employing represent this “real business process re-engineering” that Ray calls for. Startups have limited time and very limited money, their necks are on the line. They’re heavily incentivized to solve this “right but late” problem. Startups are forced into a short window of opportunity often driven by finite funding. So, they make great inspiration for quick speed to market ideas.

How might your team put constraints into place to force faster speed to market?

3. Insights Are The New Commodity.

We argue here that insights are easier and easier to discover. Now, the best marketers are no longer the ones that find the best insights. The best marketers and product developers and innovators do more with the insights they discover.

That isn’t to say that insights don’t matter. Coffee is a commodity that really matters to millions of people. What Starbucks did, though, is build a different business model around coffee. And, to note, they were a startup at one time, with a single store in Seattle. Startups don’t treat insights like they’re the end game.

How might your team better maximize existing insights? Might a different business model, using the same insight, gain more traction?

This blog was adapted from some key points from our recent talk for the Great Lakes Chapter of the Marketing Research Association. Find the full deck here

The Garage Group helps corporates innovate and grow like startups, including smarter, faster, iterative approaches to developing and optimizing new products and services that meet real consumer needs.

 Photo licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 via Flickr user: markus spiske  

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