The pitfalls of syndication & losing touch with your clients

The choice of motor vehicle gives us great insight into a person. The motor vehicle industry is a colossus and the variety of cars have changed how the world moves about. There are many manufacturers, and innumerable models, all designed to capture a certain market, or cater for a specific need.

In this smorgasbord of choice, in a world of SUVs and city runabouts, Ferraris and Jeeps, why do we have a custom car industry? Despite multiple millions of dollars spent on design and consumer insight, there is somehow still a feeling of ‘sameness’. A world of Corollas and Golfs.

The custom car industry is a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide, with everything from bespoke vehicles and custom car parts to television shows and YouTube channels. The need for this shows us, that in a world of billions of people, there is a need for individualism. There is a Mustang for those that want a muscle car and a Shelby for those that want their Mustang to stand out.

Much like the motor industry, the research industry provides a multitude of products to service the market and much like the motor industry, despite a wide variety of products, not all these products will cater specifically for every client. The research industry is largely a parking lot full of Corollas and Golfs, however clients often need a Shelby.

Syndication is the goal of most research houses. The more clients you have on board a study, the lower the costs for us and the clients, and thus also the greater the potential profits. Syndication also “future proofs” a study, in that losing one client will not necessarily derail the full study. There is safety in numbers.

However, syndication also means there has to be a standard product with little or no deviation or variation. One change affects all parties. The pitfall here is that standard products hardly, if ever, truly fulfil the needs of a client. Clients want their own views, own terminology, or have different areas of focus, which are never truly satisfied by a grid stamped product. The Corolla doesn’t always get them from point A to point B, in the way the client wants to get there. (Think about planning a road trip, taking in all the sights that are of interest to you, versus jumping on a tour bus, and having to go along with the herd.)

‘Bespoke’ and ‘boutique’ are such overused words, but the strength of a privately owned, compact and efficient research house, such as the Frontline Research Group, is agility and the ability to customise. Clients are no longer happy with “weather reporting” and joint overviews; clients want to see their data in their preferred format and in their preferred structure. The risk here is that you may have to run a separate study for each client, which carries obvious financial and longevity risks.

However, syndication need not be “one size fits all”, and the player that manages to syndicate, along with the inclusion of customisation, so that each client has a unique experience, will win in this world of individual needs.

Shelby didn’t build a new car, they added custom parts to the base car, and made it the perfect fit for you.

See you on the streets.

Author: Art Janse van Rensburg