As the 2008 global economic crisis provoked a worldwide downturn in marketing research activities in 2009 and 2010, the industry today is reorganizing and set to grow again.
According to a study by ESOMAR, the world ranking of most dynamic countries in market research remain somewhat unchanged. Only China moved up to rank 6th among countries that invest the most in that sector. The United States still ranks number one and countries such as Canada and Australia have fallen back one rank. After the inflation of 2009-2010, emerging countries in Latin America are displaying growth rates of 14%. The industry is renewing itself and must not only contend with a new global economic environment, it must also deal with issues linked to the integration of new information technologies (IT) in data collection processes.
Web 2.0, mobile telephony and the explosion of tablet devices all contributed to changed collection methods. At the global level, “online” data collection today represents the main investment technology in the field of research. According to a study by AIMIA (The Digital Industry Association for Australia), Australia is no exception and steers most of its marketing research budgets (30% versus 24% worldwide) towards “online” data collection methods.
Some factors may explain this trend for online surveys. First, the high cost of CATI work, which the minimum wage is about $ 25.00 / hour for the Australian interviewers, has contributed greatly to the prevalence of online data collection. The Australian market has proven largely adverse to the off-shoring of call centre work which does contribute to the growth of alternative data collection methodologies.
However, more robust sampling methodologies cannot always be credibly serviced by online panels which are typically not representative of the Australian population. Therefore, government and social research firms remain major drivers in the perpetuation of CATI in Australia, with many large CATI facilities still servicing this need. Commercial research however can and will opt for the online option where possible.
Secondly, Smartphone capability is increasingly becoming the sole point of contact for an important section of the population. The scarcity of accurate and productive traditional telephone databases is making cell phone contact a more popular option than previously. As a result, we may see more growth in this data collection mode.
A recent study comparing 43 countries shows that the penetration of smartphones is among the most significant in the case of Australian adults, with an ownership rate of about 66%. Furthermore, one out of three households owns a tablet device. Australian professionals state that over 50% of smartphone owners have developed a real addiction to social networks. These new behaviours will fundamentally alter the current research methods used in Australia. Contrary to global practices favouring quantitative surveys (17% versus 76%), Australian research companies use qualitative data collection methods more frequently (more than 30% versus 60% for quantitative surveys). When you know that online data collection only represents 1% of the tools used to research information within the framework of qualitative studies, you can easily imagine that the Australian market is likely to turn to more quantitative studies in the coming years.
Marketing research will need to deal with two fundamental factors in order to define the methodologies of tomorrow: adaptation to the new rules of global consumption[i] and the permanent revolution of IT.