Why Your Business Strategist Should Always Work with Consumer Research

This following is a transcribed excerpt from an upcoming episode of Startup Confidential, the only podcast for consumer brand owners that focuses entirely on challenges, misses, pain points and mistakes to avoid on your way to scale. 

“…So, if you’ve been networking in the CPG sector at all, it should be apparent that the U.S. is oversupplied with advisors, ‘experts’ and ‘mentors’ of varying kinds and of wildly varying competency. Many will advise you for free or as mentors inside the burgeoning ecosystem of accelerators IF you can get accepted by them. 

Most of these mentors are very willing to advise you on growth strategy per their knowledge and specialization. Those that do this tend to have marketing or sales backgrounds. Some are working at big public firms.

Yet, I would venture to say, of the available folks willing to advise you on growth strategy, very, very few work with any consumer data before they do this. This is true even if you provide it to them in a formal, paid engagement. But mostly it’s because strategy advice tends to come in free or informal mentoring form which doesn’t permit the time to dive into this material. 

A majority of these well-intentioned folks wouldn’t know what to do with this data, even if they had it. Not a sales consultant. Not a buyer. Not a broker. Not a designer who works with early-stage brands.

Historically, CPG startups have had no burning need for consumer data. Most are managed as B2B businesses anyways. The retailer stands in the way between the brand and the consumer, making it a pain historically to get consumer feedback of any kind. Then, there’s the issue of founder narcissism, which hasn’t changed and can prevent folks from hearing anything other than ‘we love you!!!’

I’ve waited a long time to bring up the topic of using consumer data on the podcast. But I’m done waiting, because I see too many folks avoiding it in a market that will hand huge competitive advantage to your equally small peer who knows how to use it. 

Advanced early-stage brands in Phases 3 and 4 now generally have internal folks who work with varying kind of consumer data. However, this is not always the most strategically valuable data. Too much of it fits into the ‘validate my tactic’ genre of consumer research. And even when there is consumer research conducted, founders rarely go out and study their fans in an open-ended exercise. 

Most of the time, ‘consumer research’ in early-stage brand-building is operating at a startlingly primitive level compared to the top CPG companies in the world.”

Subscribe to Startup Confidential to be the first to hear the full episode when it airs on January 1!

Dr. James Richardson

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