Get consumer insights closer to the boardroom

Alex Batchelor

A fortune is spent on market research but companies are failing to make the most of their investment, says Alex Batchelor

In a 20-year career in which I have worked as a marketing director for Unilever, Orange, Royal Mail and TomTom, as well as in advertising and brand consultancy, it is disappointing to report that I have met only one CEO who spontaneously asked me about market research. I wasn't that convinced that marketing directors were bothered about market research either. This is even more surprising when you consider how much money they are spending on it. Global market research was worth $32.5 billion in 2008 and has been growing for the past 20 years.

Why? The easiest place to start is board reporting. I have seen the board papers and financial plans of a lot of companies as a result of six years doing brand valuations at Interbrand; I have also sat on a few boards. All the board packs I have seen included a historical profit and loss, and in most, a balance sheet and cashflow.