What lies ahead for market research?
Now, then, and the future of market research
In a world where technology is at the forefront of most things we do in our lives, from online shopping to banking to heating our homes, as well as underpinning the products and services we consume in the background, it is no surprise that market research has emulated this trend and will continue to do so.
Technology touches all parts of market research from back-end processes to respondent friendly interfaces to stakeholder friendly reporting and, we believe, will play an increasingly important role over the next 10 years.
Automation, artificial intelligence and humans
As we progress towards 2028, technology will play a greater role at the back end. Automation is now a standard feature of our surveys, from sample and panel management to coding and editing and API translation. Of course, a human is required to validate what the machine has completed, but the man-hours saved compared to the original manual task translates to the bottom line. Over time, the AI involved will become smarter, more accurate and more able to learn, and human interaction minimised, helping us to become even more cost effective and efficient and pass on these savings to our clients.
Technology has helped data collection become faster and cheaper enabling companies to ‘DIY’ their VOC programmes. Anything which helps a company become more customer-centric is a good thing in our book. However, we’re seeing a move away from this with our clients, who want our support, advise and expertise in setting up and analysing their data to draw meaningful conclusions.
In the palm of our hands
Who would have imagined 10 years ago in 2008, when the iPhone (the first smartphone specifically targeted at the consumer rather than a business user with their ubiquitous Blackberry or Palm Pilot) was a year old, that we’d be doing everything on our phones these days (except perhaps making calls)? As we become more mobile dependent, by necessity market research will need to be accessible to respondents in the same format. We are used to doing stuff on our phones and market research fits in neatly with this. Every survey we do needs to be mobile friendly, both in terms of screen real estate, but also to ensure mode bias is minimised. Already we have mobile surveys, SMS surveys, mobile ethnography. AR and VR (Augmented and Virtual Reality) is starting to be considered as a market research tool, and something we’re actively investigating, and we expect it will become more prevalent over the next 10 years.
“We are all now connected by the internet, like neurons in a giant brain”
Professor Stephen Hawking
Technology will help us to be more global with fewer boundaries. Surveying far-flung places such as Burundi, Congo, Ecuador or Nepal from the UK used to be an expensive business. Online methodologies have reduced the cost and effort involved. 80% of our business is global, and we expect that to remain the same (or possibly even increase) over the next 10 years, proving that international boundaries are no barrier to research.
Nuggets of insight
Our clients are also expecting technology to be at the forefront of how we present back findings. When I started out in research over 20 years ago, presentations were printed onto acetate and placed one by one on the overhead projector. Animation wasn’t a thing unless you count using a blank sheet of paper to reveal slide elements one by one. Now, most of our projects have real-time online reporting portals, allowing clients to slice and dice the data as they wish and respond to customer queries in real time.
We think that this will only increase over time, with the addition of interactive dashboards, infographics and video reporting. Like us in our daily lives, clients are time poor and so serving up nuggets of insight will be a continuing trend.
Does the bell toll for traditional market research?
So, will the traditional researcher become obsolete with the advent of technology? Our view is no. Whilst technology can provide tools to do better market research, there is still a vital role for experienced researchers to design, create and manage programmes and to recommend, advise and interpret data to deliver actionable insights.
At Beehive, we embrace what technology can offer to develop truly bespoke market research solutions and deliver insights that make a real difference to global businesses and brands. Since our inception in 2007, we have become a successful, boutique, sophisticated, global agency, made up of highly experienced researchers. We expect this to continue over the next 10 years as technology helps us to do our jobs better and deliver more insights that really make a difference to businesses and brands and enable our clients to make sound, informed decisions.
Using our expertise, tools, techniques, and technology, we deliver real insight that can be turned into action to achieve business goals. Whether you want to engage with customers, prospects, stakeholders or employees, understand customer experience, drivers of satisfaction or listen to the ‘voice of the customer’, we can help.