Market Research Trends To Follow In 2016 Or Die

 

Okay, the headline might be a tad sensationalistic. Your market research position is probably as safe as the video store or the phonebook. But just in case, palpable trends loom in 2016 that require your attention. These shifts  will alter the landscape of market research—and perhaps to infinity and beyond (depending on the data).

 

Surveys Will Have To Be Better

 

The online survey business is booming like a Star Wars box office. It seems everyone is getting in on that quantitative action. Many tech giants are now offering integrated surveys, the latest example being Twitter and its nascent Twitter Polls. The field is getting crowded.

What’s more, budget-conscious companies are demanding surveys in the name of caution. The result is a watering-down effect. As we reported, this is causing participation rates to drop, with some studies “showing participation rates averaging 2 percent.”

We’re not alone in our findings. Market research veteran Leonard Murphy recently wrote:

Market research surveys are increasingly alienating customers and citizens. As a consequence, response rates for commercial market research are fast reducing below 1%. This means most surveys annoy people and it means they are reflecting the views of a tiny minority.

Between online surveys becoming akin to Nigerian email spam and every company deparment potentially having the ability to provide polls, the solution is not desperation at the glut but just a better, more customer-exciting execution from market researchers.

The question many in the industry are concerned with is not whether surveys are dying, but, as one market researcher put it: “Who will own surveys within the organization in 5 years from now: Marketers, Technologists or Market Researchers?”

I’m betting on market researchers who take this article to heart.

 

Market Research Will Be More Human

 

Advances in technology should not mean a less humane approach. After all, tech giants like Amazon or Apple seem to increase customer experience with every tech evolutionary step. The same should go with market research.

In his GreenBook article, Are You Alienating Your Customers With Spam Surveys? Ray Poynter details the robotic attitude of market researchers. Drawing upon data and thought leaders, he proposes two obvious way to improve the industry:

Treating customers like people
Engaging with customers over time

That certainly goes for sample providers. The GreenBook Research Industry Trends Report states that only 40% of researchers are very or completely satisfied with their provider.

We all gotta step it up. (Although, to be fair, at qSample we’re ahead by being a boutique company with an always direct pipeline of communication to our clients).

 

Market Research Goes Fully Mobile

 

Everyone has been saying it, but it’s time to fully accept it. More Americans are using mobile devices to browse the internet than on PC’s; and already 60% of cell phones are smartphones. The data will only tilt more in 2016. We’ve written extensively about the advantages and trending of mobile surveys.

As market researcher JD Deitch wrote on the important of going mobile (also in GreenBook):

Research buyers, if you’re still running long desktop-only studies, you are a fundamental cause of this problem. Blaming your suppliers for the quality of their panelists is like blaming the bartender for your hangover. I get that the change is difficult, but unless you really don’t care about people under 35 or moms with kids or ethnic minorities, you’re increasingly buying junk. This has to be part of the 2016 plan.

I can’t think of anything to add to this quote, except to quote Deitch again in the article, who said that all research should be “device agnostic and optimized for mobile by design.”

Just like every website will be by the end of 2016.

 

Market Research Will Still Be Talking About Big Data

 

There was a lot of this palaver in 2015, but no actionable illustrations from market research. It looks to be 2017 before Big Data can make even a small difference.

Big Data is still just too big and too costly, unless you’re Microsoft, IBM or Tylor Swift’s wallet.

Take, for example, the words of research executive Annie Pettit:

Big data caught the attention of market researchers and the search for people who know statistics and data and consumers is now full steam ahead. Given that big data is massively relevant to our clients in that it is their consumers, their data, and their intelligence, we need to be ready to merge insights from traditional research with insights from big data.

That’s a lot of talk leading nowhere…

One of our executives, I feel, put it best when it comes to Big Data:

It’s like teen sex. Everyone talks about it, everyone wants to do it, everyone thinks they know it, but no one is doing it.

Like I said…2017…

 

Market Research Will Focus On Experience And Convenience

 

The points mentioned above on customer treatment and survey experience should be enough to understand this notion. To highlight this idea even more, take the words of qualitative marketer Rhiannon Price:

Market research is founded on unpicking human character, but this has perhaps become a little lost as research and respondents have become more and more commoditized.

The issue is broader and more prevalent. In our recent breakfast with Google, one of the tech giant’s marketers told us in essence that “consumers are now more convenience-loyal than brand-loyal. Making it easy for consumers to find and buy your product is imperative.”

The same goes with respondents.

Consumers (and respondents) want an experience as much as a product—as much as they want convenience more than a brand. As Eye Faster CEO Kirk Hendrickson recently stated

Retailers are focusing more on what goes on while their customers are in the store and focusing research efforts on the entire experience as opposed to interactions with a given product or category.

As many market researchers have predicted, the lines between qualitative and quantitative are blurring, often on the screens of a mobile device held in a store aisle.

In short, the proverbial journey matters as much as the proverbial destination.

 

Conclusion

 

Experience, Mobile, humanity…these overarching themes will continue to sparkle in 2016. They are all interrelated. One could add video, but that’s part of the mobile era. Regardless, keep this in mind and you won’t be the next video store owner—alone and unemployed in Greenland,  moping about and talking about…Big Data perhaps?

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