The Future of Market Research, a 2017 Perspective

The Future of Market Research, a 2017 Perspective

The first quarter of 2017 has seen several major research conferences and articles published on the future of market research.  It’s exciting to read these articles and think about what lies ahead for our industry.  Focusing on the near-term, I’ve selected several articles I think give a realistic perspective on the future of market research in 2017.  I’ve included the links and a synopsis of each below.  I’ll weigh-in with my thoughts at the end.

From Green Book, The Future of Market Research Internationally:

Posting on Green Book, Julie Abersold asks, “What’s In-Store for International Research?”  The article focuses heavily on the impact of Brexit on the market research industry.  For me, the most important insight in this article has to do with the role of the UK for international research.

Is London now the world capital for market research? Although statistically the UK is still a smaller market than the US with a market of $7,344 million compared to US’s $19,097 million, the UK is most certainly the place to be for international research. The UK leads the world in global research with 36% of projects completed at an international level, compared to the US where most projects are completed at a domestic level (according to the ESOMAR GMR report).

The article goes on to question whether the UK will retain this leadership role for international market research post-Brexit.  Certainly, a deflated pound will help with research costs, but will this be enough to off-set potential trade-restrictions and political fall-out?  The article suggests that the Brexit decision may result in the center of international research shifting to Germany in the future.

From Quirks, The Future of Market Research Will Be Driven by 6 Techniques and 2 Macro-Trends:

Brexit was also a theme covered by in an article by Sarah Schmidt posted on Quirks.  This article provides an in-depth outline of the techniques and macro trends that will both amplify and restrain the market industry this year.

Like Green Book, Brexit is top-of-mind for Schmidt as is the US election.  She observes that global trade restrictions may reduce global consumption.  Reductions in global consumption could impact demand for the market research industry as well.  Further, she also notes the potential blow to the credibility of polling caused by the events in the US and UK.

On a more positive note, Schmidt’s outlook for market research in 2017 itself is fairly optimistic.  Larger budgets, new technologies, and a healthy projected growth rate are all good signs for the market research industry through 2020.

Speaking of technology, Schmidt identifies 6 techniques she believes will help shape the future of market research beginning in 2017:

  • Micro-surveys.
  • Big data analytics.
  • Advanced technologies (e.g. eye-tracking).
  • Agile market research.
  • Experimental research tools (e.g. neuro-science)
  • Virtual reality technology

Let’s hope those increased budgets pan-out, because those new techniques are exciting stuff.

From Fuel Cycle, The Future of Market Research is Big Budgets, New Technology, and Higher Expectations:

Sarah Schmidt’s vision of bigger budgets and cooler tools was shared by Fuel Cycle in their article, The Future of Market Research in 2017.  Citing another article by Schmidt, Fuel Cycle anticipate market research spending to double by 2020.

However, Fuel Cycle‘s vision for how those bigger budgets will be allocated differs from Schmidt.  According to Fuel Cycle:

  • Big Data will give-way to Micro Data around individual consumer behaviors.
  • Increased emphasis on how to engage customers and deeper insights.
  • Harnessing the “unfiltered” insights power of social media.
  • Expectations of even greater ROI from research if those budgets do increase.

This vision of the future was music to our ears.  In previous posts we’ve talked about the value of deeper qualitative insights and discussed the power of social media research here and here.

Vision Critical, The Future of Market Research is Automation and Artificial Intelligence

Kelvin Claveria over on Vision Critical continues the optimism train for 2017.  He cites research that suggests, “2017 will be a boom year for market research.”  In fact, the article attributes this in part to the uncertainty caused in global markets.

To get better insights to respond to this uncertainty, Claveria identifies three changes in the market research landscape that will begin taking place in 2017:

  • Acceleration of Automation.
  • Shift from traditional “Market Research Departments” to Strategic Consulting/Advising Departments.
  • As Automation simplifies the process of understanding “what” happened, researchers will have more capacity to engage in a qualitative understanding of the “why.”

Further, Claveria is not alone in his expectation that automation will become a critical development that will shape the future of the market research industry . . .

RW Connect, The Future of Market Research Will Showcase Combined Strength of People and Tools.

Wale Omiyale shares Claveria’s confidence in the power of the virtuous cycle created by automation and deeper qualitative insights.  Automation is the focal point of his article on RW Connect.  I love how Omiyale succinctly describes this as “The combined strength of people and tools.”

The challenge he offers is whether automation’s “faster and cheaper” can uphold the standard of quality in market research.  Even as automation “widens opportunities for self-service” and eliminates repetitive tasks for researchers, quality is still essential to the credibility of the industry.  No matter which direction market researchers take technology in the industry, quality must be at the heart of everything we do.

From Netizen Insights, A Hopeful Perspective on These Articles:

In conclusion, I chose these five articles because I found them inspiring and exciting.  Since its inception, our blog has been consistent in our enthusiasm for:

If this is what 2017 has in-store, then we think that the market research industry is heading in the right direction.  Bigger budgets are welcome too.  However doing things the right way for the right reason will be huge for the industry.

From our perspective in the CPG industry, misses by pollsters on Brexit and the US election have had little impact on consumer or shopper insights’ credibility.  From my own experience, I agree with Kelvin Calviera that if anything, the uncertainty these events bred has led to more demand for market insights.  Further, I think there is a miss that we are not discussing the value of behavior observation and social media after both events.

Ultimately, we are hopefully that market research budgets increase at the break-neck pace suggested in the articles linked above.  If you have a little market research budget in 2017 and believe Netizen Insights, LLC can help you with your strategic projects, feel free to contact us.

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