Power to the (small business) People! Bringing market research to SMEs

By Alex Johnston (Director, Jigsaw Research) and Phil Morrison (Managing Director, Whycatcher)

When Phil Morrison set up Whycatcher, he was struck by how quickly the world of market research was evolving.  The nature and structure of big corporates was changing which impacted whether and how they were using market research.  The number and size of small businesses was increasing – but these companies didn’t seem to be using market research to help them succeed.

One evening, over a couple of pints with Alex Johnston of Jigsaw research, they began to ponder this question – and a radical new idea was born!

What if market research was more accessible to smaller companies? 

Both are passionate about the value that market research could bring to smaller companies by helping them understand their markets better (domestic and international) and develop truly targeted and relevant products and services.  So Alex and Phil set out on a journey of exploration.

“We believe that engaging SMEs with market research represents a major opportunity, both for the market research industry, and for the success of UK business as a whole.”  Alex Johnston

The mission was clear – to explore the potential of SMEs as a new and important market for the market research industry. 

The first step was to understand what was stopping smaller companies using MR effectively (or at all).  This would not only help the market research industry at a time when it’s under pressure by opening up a new market, but also help the UK SME sector by helping them identify opportunities for business success.

For Alex, the opportunity to unpick the complexities surrounding business decisions and exploring how to effect change through ‘nudging’ businesses decision makers towards market research solutions was extremely exciting.  A BE expert, Alex finds the whole area of decision making and behaviour fascinating.

Phil was excited about how constantly advancing technology presents new opportunities for more powerful software and believes that this will be crucial in opening market research up to smaller businesses.

Alex and Phil embarked on a programme of research which was conducted during 2016 and 2017 – initially identifying and exploring barriers followed by an extended product trial of a new, semi-automated full-service market research service.

The insights gained represent an overall body of work and ongoing theme within the industry.  Simultaneously, the MRS was working on developing a wider audience for market research, and Jigsaw’s findings were influential in helping define the direction and scope of the SME initiative, including shaping the recently launched microsite (link here).

“Market research should be within the reach of SMEs – and we hope that our research will, in some small way, help to make that happen.”  Phil Morrison

About the authors:

Both Alex and Phil are die hard Crystal Palace supporters and are regular visitors to Selhurst Park.  Alex’s second hobby, that of watching horror movies (particularly ones involving Zombies) is perhaps fortuitous – some of Palace’s recent performances certainly fit the bill!  Phil is just hoping Palace’s players can take a bite out of their opponents’ lead and claw their way up the table.

For more information on the Award, including the other two finalists, visit The Sound or Kantar Milward Brown or find out more about Jigsaw Research.