Leveraging an Agile Approach to Research…The Right Way

by Rachel Agin and Lori Noel

More than ever, limited budgets and expedited timelines are driving the need for agile marketing research decisions. But as a researcher, you still want research that is tailored to you, designed with your business objectives in mind, and provides actionable, trustworthy solutions. You want answers you can trust to questions that can’t wait.

But what is agile research, and when should you leverage an agile approach?

Agile takes on a number of different meanings, dependent on the research situation and need. In most cases, agile is associated with speed. It’s true that, when done right, agile helps processes move faster. But agile also means more – a project that can accommodate last-minute adjustments and iterations without major impact on costs or timing, or a project whose deliverable does not need to be a report. At the core, agile is a mindset that embraces three important principles:




While we use agile principles to guide how we approach and manage projects, we know certain research types lend themselves well to a focus on agile’s “speed” benefit: early innovation/idea screening, concept/name testing, pricing research, hot topic exploration, and C-Suite Q&A (to name a few).

Generally speaking, an agile approach to research is excellent for point-in-time insights to make decisions that keep a larger initiative moving. It is a great approach when designing research with:

  • Short surveys
  • Simple questions
  • Easy-to-reach consumers
  • Tactical, small reports

This approach also recognizes that you don’t want to sacrifice anything, even when moving fast, especially sample quality. You can still employ the same rigorous sample management practices, instilling confidence that the sample used in your study is of the highest quality.

We have seen clients reap the rewards from this agile research approach, with expedited timing to meet what would have been impossible deadlines, and fast, cost-efficient answers to tactical business questions. 

Here are three examples of how agile has met the needs of our clients:

Quick Service Restaurant Case Study: Less than 5 Days to Insights

  • With an extremely fast turnaround needed for their organization to make decisions, the QSR team turned to Burke to design a solution. The straightforward descriptive study was programmed, fielded, and reported in less than 5 calendar days. An online strategic insights portal provided the client with the guidance they needed to make decisions with lightning-fast speed.

Financial Services Case Study: Tactical Results for a Tactical Question

  • With a tactical question in hand and limited budget, an agile approach was the clear solution for a Financial Services client trying to determine which credit card design to move forward. A quick concept test provided the clear-cut answer needed to make business decisions. The short, succinct PowerPoint deliverable provided the necessary detail, insights, and recommendations the client needed.

Telecommunications Case Study: Assessing short and long-term impact of COVID-19

  • Early in the days of understanding the impact of COVID-19, a Telecommunications client asked for a multi-week agile solution to track key metrics and ask “hot topic” questions to guide stakeholder decisions. Every Monday a new survey was programmed, launched the next day, and early insights delivered by end of week. This allowed the client to keep in-the-moment conversations moving at a necessary pace and determine the right actions to take in an uncertain time.

Interested in learning more about Burke’s agile capabilities? Reach out to Rachel Agin or Lori Noel.

Magic maker. Rachel manages and motivates teams to deliver impactful results.  Her 15+ years of insights experience in a wide variety of industries helps clients learn, grow, and succeed.  She brings her smarts and fun to every project.

Lover of data. Lori leverages her passion for consumer behavior and experience across multiple industries to find clever approaches to help clients discover the answers to their most pressing research questions. She leaves inquisitive minds satisfied.

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Sources: Feature Image – ©tirachard –


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