Consumers unconsciously contradict themselves. Q&Q decodes it with the Market Research through Real People, Real Insights™
Q&Q is almost a 2-decade old market research firm pioneering agriculture market research and became the only Indian company to make a mark in the Asian agriculture research space, competing with MNC’s that used to dominate the market then.
For over 15 years, Priyanka Mallick has been at the forefront of market research in India. Ms. Mallick has been instrumental in shifting analytical models from those based on self-reported consumer behavior to the fusion of data from a broad variety of sources, including the integration of consumers’ passive online and offline behavior. Priyanka is also an independent director on the board of Shree Renuka Sugars (A Wilmar Company).
She graduated from St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai and continued her study in the Aberty University, UK, where she specialized in biotechnology.
HI PRIYANKA, HOW HAS MARKET RESEARCH EVOLVED IN THE LAST COUPLE OF DECADES?
I believe the core essence of market research has remained the same since eons. We understand the client’s needs, speak to consumers, and generate insights that clients can use to create strategies for branding/improving their sales/reach, etc.
Since Q&Q specializes in rural research and serves the agriculture sector in the APAC region, what we see is a significant increase in the utilization of market research across all kinds of decision making. Earlier, it was a few large MNCs who did the usual brand tracking and utilized the data, but today, small domestic companies and even agri-tech startups are using MR to understand their consumers better. An industry that was largely driven by “gut feeling” is now relying on numbers and insights.
In terms of methodology, top agriculture brands are now relying on conjoint-based price methods to derive value pricing for their brand launches or even brand price corrections. This has all happened in the last 5–10 years, and I say the future of MR looks better than ever before.
SOMETIMES, IT MUST BE A HUMUNGOUS CHALLENGE TO BRING COMPLEX DATA AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOR TO THE BOARDROOM. CAN YOU SHARE A FEW OF YOUR DAY-TODAY CHALLENGES IN THIS JOURNEY?
We strive really hard to make fancy-looking presentations, but what goes on behind the scenes is hardly anything close to fancy. I think the biggest challenge we face is that clients never have time. We usually need to turn around research projects within a few weeks. Q&Q is blessed to have one of the best operations (Fieldwork) teams who have been instrumental in helping us deliver on time and sometimes even before time reports.
The key challenge in market research is always gathering good quality data, from the right consumers within a limited timeframe. Often our operations team are given a few days to set up a huge data collection team, say, across 5 states and 1500 consumers covering 20 districts.
They work 10–12 hours every day, visit the most rural parts of the country, search for mobile networks to deliver data to our in-city offices so that QC is done and any inconsistencies are sent back to the field on time for checking back. Sometimes things go wrong, but they are there night and day to solve it for us so that the data that finally goes on those presentations is accurate and reliable.
HAS IT EVER HAPPENED THAT THE CONSUMERS THEMSELVES DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY WANT CONSCIOUSLY? WHAT KIND OF APPROACH DO YOU USE TO UNDERSTAND THEIR TRUE INTENTIONS?
We have often seen; consumers contradict themselves. In qualitative research methodologies, we use several projective techniques, role plays, and games that help us decode what the consumer really wants (not merely what he says he wants). Quantitative methods can be more challenging, however.
Often research tools like questionnaires are designed to capture such inconsistencies of data. We also take care of consistencies by minimizing sampling and non-sampling data errors. Agriculture being the 2nd biggest sector of Indian Economy will see its growth from data-based decision-making by 2025.
MOST OF THE NATIONAL OR REGIONAL FIRMS IN INDIA, STILL GO WITH THEIR INSTINCT AND BYPASS THE MARKET RESEARCH PROCESS? AS AN ENTREPRENEUR WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THAT? IS IT RIGHT TO STAKE MILLIONS OF INVESTMENTS ON AN INSTINCT?
That’s an interesting question. Instinct is great. I usually love following my instincts too! But when millions are at stake, and something doesn’t work – where do you go?. The question is who shoulders the blame. Often, in MNCs, decisions cannot be made by a single person’s gut feeling alone, and hence, research data is usually needed to make informed decisions.
Times are changing now. The leadership structure in regional, domestic, or family-run businesses is changing. There is much more professionalism, and we have seen a change in the way such companies are doing business in the last 1 decade.
Something triggers the use of research data that comes from creative or ad agencies, sometimes from investors, sometimes from a new CEO who comes from a previously research-savvy organization. Whatever be it, we know that once people start using research data, there is no going back! Like they say – it’s a one-way street (wink).
YOU’RE ALSO IN TOP 5 MARKET RESEARCH COMPANIES IN INDIA AND YOU’VE WON SEVERAL AWARDS TOO. CAN YOU TELL US NOW WHAT Q&Q IS AIMING FOR NOW?
Thank you. I believe we have always been doing different work. It’s only in the last few years that we have become recognized by large platforms like the Market Research Society of India, Iris Network (which is a global network of agencies), etc.
Whilst doing good quality work is always a priority for us, we do hope to become a name synchronous with agriculture market research across the world. Today we work in 10+ markets, mainly in the APAC markets. The next step for us will be growth in the EU market.
Apart from just growing in terms of countries, clients, and type of projects we do, we are also actively working towards becoming more technology enabled and serving the major need gaps in the market. Finally, something we are passionate about is putting our people first. We aim to become a company that people aspire to be part of.
HOW CAN MARKET RESEARCH HELP THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR IN COMING YEARS?
By 2025, the Indian economy will be worth 5 trillion dollars, which is up from 3.05 trillion dollars (236.65 lakh crores) in 2021-22. We will be the 5th biggest economy in the world. The Govt. has introduced structural reforms like Production Linked Incentives (PLI) schemes to reach this target. In reference to GVA (Gross Value Added), agriculture is the 2nd biggest in this sector after the service industry. Considering 20% of the contribution from agriculture by 2025, the value of this sector will reach up to 50.9 lakh crores.
Thus, higher the stakes, the greater the need for data, consumer behavior, and insights. Market research will become the need of the hour. We will see the growth of data-based decision making. The government and various input companies will need to harness farmer data to run schemes, provide services and products to them. This, in addition to growing digitalization in rural India, will make it imperative to understand the changing consumer behavior.
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