Randy Locke, Amway's Global Market Research Director, addressed this topic at the 2016 New Face of Consumer Insights conference held by the Institute for International Research (IIR).
More specifically, he discussed how the firm's market research team decided to press "pause" on new research projects in order to thoroughly analyse and synthesise the results of 12 previous studies.
"The brand marketers were like, 'You're taking resources away from fetching the data for my brand research, and you're doing that to look at past research? Why would you do that?'" Locke said. (For more research tips, read Warc's exclusive report: Amway stretches research dollars by digging into past studies.)
His answer: "Because that's millions and millions of dollars of research that we've already conducted. We need to mine and leverage and understand that before we go and do new research.
"I was tired of new brand managers coming in and saying, 'Hey, I've got this great idea. We need to do this, this, and this.' It's like, 'No, I've done that. I've seen it.'"
By adapting its practices to take existing data into account when exploring fresh business problems, Amway can save time and money – and, as importantly, refine the questions it should be asking to move forward.
"If someone comes in with a research proposal, the very first question I ask is, 'What do we already know?'" said Locke. "We will not start until we do what I call a 'knowledge map'.
"We lay it all out – every concept that's been tested, our syndicated research … Until we collect all of that, we do not move."
From a researcher's perspective, he reported that this new approach has also resulted in a positive shift in perceptions. "Since we started doing that, our credibility has shot through the roof," Locke explained.
"My team would get asked, 'Why do you believe that?' Now, it's like, 'This is not me. This is 37,500 customers.' And if you have a perspective, we'll add your perspective to that as well, but this is the perspective we're speaking from.'"
Data sourced from Warc