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Predictions for the year ahead in the market research industry

by Raj Manocha.

Mobile-research-450x281As the marketing research world settles into 2015, the year ahead promises to present the industry with unparalleled opportunities to enhance our product.  Here’s a look at some trends that will have a large impact this year:

Research Automation

Marketers are looking to acquire timely data on ideas or concepts, but don’t necessarily need a full research project to solve their problem.  However, they do need some rigour around their approach to make sure they can trust the data.  This has created an opportunity between the DIY offerings like SurveyMonkey and Google Surveys and the traditional custom research provided by full service market research companies.

This “middle-market” opportunity creates a very interesting bridge between the marketer and research community – there are still marketers who do not use insight tools/services for all of their marketing initiatives, so the opportunity to speak/educate a new audience can enhance the spend in the marketing research industry.

The key will be trying not to push technology at this group.  True success will come by educating them on what insights can provide, and enabling them to have quick, cost-effective, insights to support their initiatives.

The Panellist is King

Never has a panellist had as much power as they do now.  The marketing research industry, particularly in Canada, will start to really struggle at fulfilling sample needs if we continue to provide poor experiences to panellists.  Asking personal questions, such as income levels or ethnicity, without a ‘prefer not to answer’ option is a great example of poor survey design.

More than ever, panellists are contacting customer service to complain about poor survey design and having the right to not divulge information they deem personal.  Why do we continue to force people into our process, when we should be trying to understand how to fit into their process?

The world continues to evolve when it comes to personal engagement and user experience, yet great and engaging survey designs are significantly outnumbered by the poor ones.  Unless there is a monumental shift in our approach, including having data collection companies saying no to poor surveys, getting people to fill out traditional online surveys will become more costly and less effective.

The Future of Tracking Research

We’ve all heard the term big data, but the enormity of data sets today are overwhelming to most.  What’s more pertinent is medium data, which suggests the ability to connect data sources, but a limited amount of them.  This is the future of tracking.

Take passive tracking, for instance. That’s the ability to track someone via their mobile phone and laptop.  This gives the researcher the opportunity to track people via GPS, IPS, social media posts, search history, etc…  Combine that with the ability to ask these respondents a small set of weekly questions, and you’ve quickly created a web of information that can replace tracking.  You can track what concepts they have seen on their phone or laptop, understand their behaviours, and then ask them questions based on what they have/haven’t seen.

This approach creates a tracker that’s alive and moves in real-time.  More than ever, brands care about what’s happening in the moment.  Traditional tracking doesn’t provide the luxury of real-time data.  The future, which is already starting to happen, is the ability to stitch together multiple data sets to create real-time trackers.

Which companies will ride the trends to success and which will push back and continue to do the things they’ve always done?  2015 will be telling in terms of the evolution of the Canadian marketing research industry.