Market research should be consultative, technology and ideas fuelled

The near expediential increase in technological capacity combined with the growing universality of mobile technology – and specifically smart mobile technology – ownership is driving and shaping the way companies are doing business and how they are connecting with their customers and consumers.  As Caroline wrote, these changes mean that the market research industry needs to change.

The digital world is shrinking the gap between businesses and customers, shrinking the time it takes to get feedback and shrinking the money organisations are willing to spend on outsourcing research. This transformation is taking place across all sectors: from cutting edge developments in ecommerce, through to how to how health enterprises connect with their patients.

From these shrinkages will see three trends shaping the market research industry and the way it should change:

1. Research will be more consultative

In a recent article for Business 2 Community, Antoine Deroche, CEO and Co-founder of Datafield, described his vision of ‘The Future of Market Research in a Digital World.’ He argues that the increasing data savvyness and statistical literacy of digital and data businesses, in addition to the iterative models adopted by lean start-ups, will ring the death knells of outsourced market research aimed at helping businesses understand the needs and preferences of their customers. This will instead be done in-house.

Market Research will instead become increasingly consultative: businesses will use Market Research companies to gain expert sector knowledge, receive strategic insight, get advice on and access to software tools, which will increasingly be designed and owned by Market Research organisations themselves.

Market Research will increasingly be directed at competitor intelligence. While businesses may know their own markets and customers more and more intimately, a space will remain for Market Research to provide competitor insight and areas businesses do not have direct access to.

2. Research will be technology enabled and based in the real world in real time

Although technology will drive fundamental changes in the Market Research sector, it will also enable researchers to access research participants’ real worlds in real time. Smart phones and other mobile technologies provide richer denser data than traditional written responses. People in general are increasingly comfortable and confident in sharing videos online, with uploaded video content to online communities opening the showing how customers really use products and giving a “whites of the eyes” experience for clients. Similarly camera glasses allow the customer journey to be seen from a customer perspective and remove problems from selective remembering as it is all recording. Similarly, the growth of social media platforms and social media Listening tools allow market researchers to access the crowd and increase the number of respondents involved in their research.

3. Research incentivisation will be non-monetary and ideas based

The shrinking gap between companies and their customers is leading to closer and more loyal relationships being formed between the two. Lean business models are increasingly involving the customer in the research and development of new products and services with Tom De Ruyck, Head of Research Communities at InSites Consulting, describing in a recent presentation how customers are becoming smart co-creators, rather than passive consumers. That individuals are wanting to invest in ideas, rather than gaining material return is represented by the growth of crowd funding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo – people don’t necessarily want money, but want to be part of the design process.

For Market Researchers this will mean rather than incentivising in cash, research participants could instead be involved in longer term, iterative projects thus opening the way for longer term communities where the same people can take part in multiple rounds of research.