Market research is rapidly advancing from telephone and direct mail surveys, and financial services institutions are learning what other industries have known for several years: New technologies can dramatically decrease product development time and help companies build highly sophisticated consumer profiles.

The Axiom Group, a Minneapolis-based market research firm, added three major banks and two insurance companies in the last nine months, after five years of serving consumer goods manufacturers like General Mills and Whirlpool. The company's advanced methods offer quantitative and qualitative research results in as little as three weeks. One of the keys to success is being first to market, says Scott Barlass, president of The Axiom Group, so if market research accelerates the process, companies can innovate more successfully.

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