Turning point of market research

 5 minute read

Market research as we know it is undergoing drastic changes as consumers are making decisions faster, and data collection and analysis can soon even predict the future.

Why is change needed?

The market research industry is rapidly changing as technology is bringing new ways to analyse data faster and more efficiently. Consumers are making their buying decisions increasingly faster and tend to make their purchases online. In order for market research agencies to stay in the pace of their clients, they need to be able to supply real-time consumer data to predict future trends before they even appear. As ESOMAR’s Global Market Research 2018 Report says: “To say that the research industry is in transition is an understatement. Industry leaders, both on the client and the supplier side, agree that a combination of forces is changing the sector at a speed not seen before”.

Tech as a gateway to deeper information

Market research agencies are already using online platforms on which they can handle large focus groups and communicate with participants in a more real-world manner through forums where they can download pictures and videos about their experiences. Participants can be followed for a longer period of time this way and they become more likely to reveal their true feelings and desires, which may not be as easy to access in more traditional surveys or focus groups. Thus, these platforms offer a more humane way of collecting data and simultaneously doesn’t feel too invasive to consumers.

It is no surprise that the increasingly powerful technologies and algorithms being developed can revolutionise also the market research industry. Data collection and analysis has been time and resource consuming, and all data specialists have had an invaluable role in market research companies. Artificial Intelligence, for one, can be used to mine large and unstructured datasets which would take a long time without the added tech boost. Additionally, it can used to moderate large research projects by using chatbots to supervise largescale focus groups. Blockchain on the other hand can be used to collect higher quality research data as well as to enhance consumer experiences and engagement.

Future market research will be using different kinds of recognition data to get deeper, non-explicit information from shoppers. Especially emotion and behaviour recognition will become popular as people often tend to hold back some of their opinions and feelings. These could be used in official market research interviews or focus groups, or even be taken as far as be used in stores to see what kind of consumers buy which products and in which situations. The problem that arises from this technology is the privacy threat, as people could be spied on against their will to get the information that companies want.  

Trend hunting from conversations

The UK’s fastest growing tech start up, Black Swan, has created its own Social Prediction method to modernise market research and get it to drive the current needs of consumers. They use a six-step technology method to find emerging shopping trends from online data. At the first stage, Black Swan’s online platform gathers millions of publicly available conversations from various different social data sources. At the second stage, noise and irrelevant content is removed from the data before it is structured into a customer-defined category taxonomy with Natural Language Processing and clustering analysis. During the third stage, the data is scanned for new topics, that are then analysed by a variety of factors. The fourth stage uses a Trend Prediction Value (TPV) algorithm to analyse the maturity of each trend and to calculate their future growth potentials. In the fifth stage, all category trends are ranked against each other by using the TPV scores. This results in one global metric that can be used to prioritise new and emerging trends. Finally, in the sixth stage, brands can access this ready data and analysis through Black Swan’s Horizon and Trendscope solutions. Compared to old survey methods of market research that supply results even six months later, Black Swan’s Social Prediction method can identify trends that cannot even be seen by professionals. Overall, the scientific model gives clients an advantage as they see the effects of fast, fact-based decision-making.

Motivating consumers to enhance data collection

Kantar, a forefront market research company with an estimated annual revenue of 3.8 billion dollars, has plunged itself deep into consumer needs and desires to find out the best ways to collect valuable real-time data. Their product, Worldpanel Plus, provides their clients with information collected from real shoppers and their behaviour, from a database of 75 thousand panellists. It can be used to analyse purchase behaviour from any type of store or any channel. In addition of getting a full picture of shoppers and their habits, including detailed purchase times and multiple retailer shopping days, it can also help to provide deeper insights into the motivations at the point of decision-making by sending shoppers receipt-triggered surveys.

All of this data is collected with an app called Shoppix. It has been designed to resemble a game where consumers submit their receipts by their smartphones and in turn receive tokens and scratch cards that they can exchange for retailer vouchers. Thus, the more receipts the consumers submit, the more they win. Companies can this way capture real-time purchase data of the retailer name, product details, price for each item, total spend as well as exact time and date of the purchase. Additionally, surveys can be sent to customers at the time of purchase, to immediately get deeper understanding of their motivations for the purchase. This data collection method is a great example of how the company has made the extra effort to understand how consumers are most likely to be willing to give more information to research agencies. It will become more important in the future to ensure that market research methods are designed in a human-centred way.

Insight Box

Andrew Grenville, the author of “The Insights Revolution: Questioning Everything”, suggested three scenarios for how market research will evolve in the future. In the first scenario, like dinosaurs, the market research industry as we know it may disappear, and other insight functions will continue in a radically different form. The second scenario as an analogy to making shoes, survey research could have a much larger market and would be automated. This enables variety and scale. However, only few researchers would be designing the studies and instead, increasingly more jobs would appear in selling results by making them more applicable and attractive to clients. The third scenario refers to the analogy of making home videos. Research would be easy and quick to execute, as well as more widely used. However, the skill of the creator would define the value of the content. In the authors words: “It’s impossible to know which scenario will play out. It is quite probable that some combination of all these scenarios will transpire. But one thing these scenarios have in common is a radical change, creating new winners and losers. This change is not likely to be a single event. It is likely to be an ongoing process of continual, rapid evolution”.

#AI #apps #blockchain #future trends #human-centred design #market research #recognition data
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