How Market Research Is Like Coffee


Cup Of Coffee by Petr Kratochvil

A few months ago I had this brilliant idea of comparing market research to different ways to get coffee. Although I would not consider myself a connoisseur a coffee snob, I do drink a lot of coffee (Just ask anyone that knows me). And although I had the title picked out, I never got any further on it. But as I am sitting here reflecting over the past week, I decided to revisit the topic and blog about it.

  • Coffee could be simple or complicated. Well so can market research. Personally, I am a black coffee drinker. If I get coffee from someplace, they always ask the “cream or sugar” question and I always answer “why ruin a perfectly good cup of coffee?”. Now you can get a half-caf soy chai latte with nutmeg (whatever that is). Although market research can be a simplified process like a straight forward customer satisfaction survey. Sometimes, a more complex process like biometrics or neuromarketing is what may be needed for you or your clients.
  • People can get coffee from a lot of places: at home, a restaurant, a basic coffee shop, or from some high end coffee bistro. Just like with where you can get coffee, you can get market research done done by any number of outlets. You can do it yourself. If what you want done is something is basic, the DIY method may work. You could also get it from a business that does market research along with a number of other services, like a restaurant that serves lots of different types of drinks and foods. If you want a someone who specializes in market research, you have individuals and companies that do the traditional methods and then you also have others that do the high-end complex research.
  • Coffee used to be a pretty straight forward flavor. Now there are so many. Remember the “When I was your age…” stories? Well, back in the day (whenever that was), coffee was coffee. Granted you had different makers like Folgers, Maxwell House and Sanka; but it was all about the same. Now coffee has evolved into so many different flavors and bean combinations. And there are new ones nearly every day (In fact, I just saw a bourbon flavored coffee). And the flavors are constantly evolving. Market research is the same way. Back in the day, research was surveys, demographics, and focus groups designed to solve specific problems or questions. Now, these methods and new processes and methods, like analytics and social media research, are used to help solve strategic questions. And on top of that, these methods are constantly evolving.

Now that I have made the way you look at your next cup of joe in a completely different way, I hope that you can understand all of the unique aspects of market research and how diverse, innovative, and evolving market research is.

Based on your experience, how else could you compare coffee and market research? I would like to hear what comparisons you might have.

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at


About J. Nolfo
Well...there is a lot to know. #Cx, #Analytics, #SM, Specialty #AgChem, #StL sports, & more. FT @BASFAgProducts. @Mizzou Alum. Supporter of the #Rhino. Tweets my own. #SMMW17 attendee....Dad...Hiker...Scouter...and so much more.

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