How To Present Market Research So It Will Be Acted On

Market research can help retailers know how to convert more of the customers who enter their stores.

Market research can help retailers know how to convert more of the customers in their stores.

Counting how many people enter a store is nothing new in the retail world, but Headcount CEO, Mark Ryski, used to find it frustrating that so many clients weren’t acting on his company’s market research reports.

The data he gave them went way beyond just telling them how many people crossed the threshold: his insights gave them lots of ideas about how they could improve to convert more of the visitors to their stores into customers.

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So why weren’t the clients taking action?

It’s a problem familiar to many consultants. In today’s interview, which followed a presentation Ryski gave recently to the Alberta chapter of the Marketing Research & Intelligence Association (MRIA), we discuss:

  • The clever tactic his company now uses to get clients to act on market research results.
  • The value of having a skilled human analyst look at data instead of relying completely on computer algorithms.
  • Mistakes that are easy to make in interpreting data from traffic counts or other market research.

Great Market Research: Why No Action?

Ryski points out in the podcast that there are several barriers to getting action:

Make your research reports easy to understand

Make your research reports easy to understand

Problem: User-Hostile Reports

Many companies get sold on slick software with fancy dashboards that claim they’ll tell you everything that’s happening at a glance. The problem is that our brains can’t take it all in at a glance.

Often there is too much presented, it is shown in ways that aren’t intuitive to understand, and it isn’t obvious how to pull out only the data that is relevant to the user.

In fact, in many organizations software is bought by higher-ups, who love that it can tell them so much, but the people who actually have to use it haven’t even been consulted. The data dashboards that impressed the buyer may not present the information in a way that is useful to the user.


  • If you are a vendor, simplify your reports and test them with real users. Find out what they need to see and what format is most useful to them.
  • Include training when you sell your software tools so they’ll start seeing the value immediately.

Problem: Lack of Resources

short staffed = long lineup

Long lineups may be from a lack of resources

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: unless and until you’ve mistreated them, most staff want to do a good job.

The managers who get the market research reports want to use that expertise to do a better job. But life gets in the way. They have competing pressures for their time and budget.

So a store manager may know that the till lineups are too long, but if they can’t get permission from head office to hire more staff, what can they do?


  • Present your results in a way that will help them make the business case to their superiors about why they need extra resources.
  • Offer suggestions about low-cost or easy ways to start implementing the needed changes with existing resources. There may be other areas within their budget that you’ve discovered do not provide much value to customers, so maybe money or staff time can be shifted away from those, for example.

Problem: Uncertainty & Loss of Momentum

Uncertainty & Loss of Momentum

Uncertainty & Loss of Momentum

They may start off keen to implement your recommendations, but then get busy with the myriad of other things competing for their attention.


  • Offer coaching to help them figure out how to start the ball rolling, and to keep it moving as it hits real-life bumps. Initially, coaching is something that may be worth offering at no extra charge. Why? Because you need to be able to show client success stories. That’s worth something to you. Some companies include initial coaching as part of the package, and then needy clients can pay for more.
  • As you develop more expertise in common problems, you’ll be able to package and offer courses that you can sell (or offer at no charge to them, but now no longer a cost to you) that address common problems.

PeopleShock Update

At the end of this week’s episode I also gave a little update about how the book is coming along. It is getting pretty exciting at this stage: choosing a cover design, finalizing the subtitle (which is amazingly difficult to get right!), watching testimonial quotes for the cover come in…

If you would like to be a PeopleShock Insider, and stay up to date with what’s happening over the next couple of months, get free bonuses, an invitation to the launch party, and have a chance to buy the book before it goes public, please go sign up at . I’d love to have you join us!

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