Are you running just to stay still?

Are you running just to stay still?

The pace of market research is changing. New technologies and methodologies are influencing just about every aspect of the industry. Are you keeping up or standing still?

The overwhelming reason behind this trend is the fact that many more channels have become available for consumers to interact with brands. Before it was mostly TV advertising and brick and mortar retail. Collecting feedback and opinions was much easier. Things have got a lot more complicated, but equally much more interesting and insightful right now. Consumers are able to write and read online reviews, post comments on social media, compare prices using apps and buy things at the click of a button. New ways of accessing, measuring and collecting feedback about these activities are emerging every day.

In this short article we try to highlight some of these and why it’s more important than ever to stay on top of these developments. Those below are the ones we see as having the biggest impact and influence on market research in the near future.


There is a lot of buzz about this in the industry right now. The ability to create online questionnaires and send to pre-recruited panels without using traditional research agencies seems highly attractive, both in terms of time but also in terms of anticipated lower cost of doing research. Done well, we are sure there is a place for quick and inexpensive research done this way. But we don’t expect research agencies to go away. More complicated studies will continue to need the skills and expertise of these highly experienced people. Not least when complex samples and analyses are required.

Artificial Intelligence

This is another of the new technologies that is getting a lot of buzz, particularly when it relates to unstructured data analysis. We have recently used some great machine learning tools that significantly improve the performance and effectiveness of social media listening. To us, this means that artificial intelligence is coming into its own, where complex unstructured data will become increasingly more useful and informative.

Quantifying the Qualitative

A criticism often levied at qualitative research is that it is not representative or robust enough. Recently new tools have been developed that allow qualitative interactions with respondents in a quantitative setting. This approach combines the benefit of an engaging qualitative techniques and combining them with more robust, reliable sample sizes.

Online Communities

Online communities are rapidly replacing traditional focus groups. Why? The main reasons are that it is possible to engage with respondents over a much longer period of time. By doing so it becomes possible to observe the entire customer journey, from awareness to purchase, identifying key barriers along the way. From a participant point of view, they can engage at their convenience; at a time and in a place of their own choosing, not the research agency or the client’s.

Virtual Reality

VR technology is being rolled out and adopted at a pace that surpasses both mobile phone and wearable innovation. As more people use VR it will become possible to run various research tests in the comfort of a respondent’s home. Why bother asking them to attend somewhere when the concepts can be projected to and experienced using VR where they are most likely to use the finished products in the first place.

Big Data

We don’t see big data replacing market research but rather complimenting it. The idea of big data is attractive based on the promise of actual usage/behaviour and huge sample sizes. Numerous tools are being developed to help sift through this information. However, big data had two drawbacks. First, it has very little to say about competitor customers. And second, it very rarely gets to the ‘Why’. To us, this means that whilst not replacing market research, big data has the ability to make traditional research methodologies more efficient and effective.

Combine all of this together, and it's clear there is much to stay on top of. But whilst a bit daunting, all these new technologies present new opportunities to provide more meaningful and impactful insights.

At ‘The Opinion Company’, we make it a priority to stay on top of technology and innovation. We are ready to embrace the change, keep our eyes open for what's next and find ways to leverage these new approaches for our clients.

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