So is market research still relevant in the face of the age of Big Data? While growth rates in MR are practically nonexistent, passive data collection & analysis is seeing meteoric growth as an industry. We don’t want to hammer a point too heavily into the ground, but let’s try to make sense of it and offer way forward. Adaptation to the new consumer and stakeholder mindset is key. Here’s what we see far too much of in the slower-to-adapt corners of our industry:
For now, there are too many agencies and firms making insights far too complex. Does a findings report need to be 20-50 slides of tables full of raw numbers? This stubborn insistence on data complexity limits the effectiveness of quality research. Recommendations are being ignored because they’re buried under mounds of raw data. Consider data presentation that actually gets noticed.
New platforms. Old methodology.
We’re applying old methodologies to new platforms, despite living in a world of sweeping technological advancements. Many companies still gather market data by administering static, boring, DIY online surveys. While some agencies feel that shifting to online (from phone or pen & paper) has been enough, they’re ignoring the fact that each year sees more an more respondents exclusively on mobile, and that time is spent almost exclusively in-app.
But even those who have shifted to mobile haven’t changed their business models for deploying these new technologies. Even a simple study still needs several analysts and project managers. The value of mobile is in the speed and simplicity of the user experience and the ability to reach your audience where they spend most of their time.
We claim to be building customer-centric communities, but the unwelcome truth is that we still view respondents as an expense. We put little thought into making surveys non-intrusive, fun, engaging, or even addictive! And so the segment of people who are willing to participate in research is shrinking, and increasingly non-representative.
It lacks visual impact.
The world and the people within it are becoming more and more visual as time goes on. Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Vine are growing quickly as consumers abandon text and let multimedia do the talking. Even reigning social media kings Facebook and Twitter are shifting gradually to a multimedia-first information flow. Why? Because visuals are more concise and more effective units of communication. Worth a thousand words, as they say…
If your surveys lack multimedia, you’re going to have a tough time reaching those juicy demographics who often avoid boring surveys. Visual and mobile combined offer better reach and a better survey experience.
But, researchers are still not using either to its full benefit. For example, while there are many firms in the marketing industry that are enabling clients to understand and speak to consumers in this new visual language, market research firms have, for the most part, only focused on analyzing imaged-based social data that consumers are already posting, being voyeurs so to speak. However, there is so much more to social, especially imaged-based social, that by doing so they are missing out on a major opportunity. Market researchers should also use social and visual social as an opportunity to directly solicit responses to gather meaningful, in the moment of truth insights, both quickly and cost effectively while ensuring a stellar respondent experience.
Gathering imaged-based data can be very valuable to your market research efforts. With visual, we can ask fewer questions and still gather mountains of information. Why not have them write about their experiences in a log? That way we have loads of data to digest and pick out nuggets of wisdom from. To that I would say not true – A picture is truly worth a 1000 words. And when solicited and examined properly it can enable researchers to garner vital insights in a manner that is non-intrusive, fun and very natural to consumers.
Adapt or Die.
Sounds harsh? It is. But this simplification and visualization helps both the survey respondent and the survey stakeholder, and eventually enables an agile style of research where you can learn and refine on your way towards key insights.
These are tumultuous yet exciting times for the Market Research industry. To remain relevant and even to prosper, adaptation is key. So the next time you hear someone in the office ask about benchmarks and other standardized methodologies, respond with “The technique is different, but the world has changed, and so must we.”