Both great chefs and potters at the wheel evaluate and create at the same time. A successful market research process requires the same blended intuitive and analytical mindset. Success comes with creative ideas and astute market understanding.
Research and analytical types might espouse a customer-driven approach to market research and market opportunity discovery. I believe that market research is useful primarily to feed, rather than judge, the process.
Often, market research can present a dilemma for marketing decision-makers and a tug-of-war among the pros they rely upon. Creative and advertising people – whether inside or agencies – who conceive exciting concepts, may voice that new ideas come from creative insight and genius, not research.
I would argue that you need to design a process that draws on both: creative power and marketing information. So, go ahead, mix up some great research out there!