There has never been a more exciting time to work in market research. New research methodologies driven by technological advances simultaneously present challenges and opportunities for market researchers. Keeping abreast of these new methods – especially ones that extend beyond most researchers’ traditional core competencies – will pose significant challenges to both firms and individual practitioners. The adoption of these new technologies will enable researchers to provide better insights more efficiently and thereby, be more valuable to their organizations.
Masters of mobile
The data in the 2015 GRIT Report are fairly clear: mobile has arrived and big data is coming. 67% of respondents of the GRIT survey indicated they are using mobile surveys today and another 23% report that mobile surveys are under consideration. Along with the near-universal adoption of mobile surveys, these devices are being used to collect data that heretofore were almost impossible to obtain. In fact, over a third of respondents are using mobile devices for new forms of ethnography and qualitative research. Being mobile-centric is no longer an option for market researchers – mobile data collection methodologies must be mastered in today’s environment.
Decoding of Data
GRIT survey respondents are considering the mining of Big Data at high levels. Researchers report they’re most interested in text analytics (37%), big data (37%), social media analytics (31%) and internet-of-things/sensor-based data (31%). The rapid pace of connected technology allows us to collect millions – even billions – of data points that will enable researchers to enhance their ability to predict behavior. Given that we’re likely to see many additional sources of data – including niche social networks, wearables and more connected devices – analyzing and utilizing this information will become increasingly complex.
More than ever, both corporate researchers and market research agencies will need to analyze these large volumes of data to find meaning that gives their client a competitive edge. To remain competitive, researchers must simplify, synthesize and distill the ever-growing data deluge into actionable insights for their clients. One of the key analysis challenges with these new data sources is to explain the why behind the what. Big data and social listening can tell you what is going on but not why data relationships exist. Attitudinal research continues to be the gold standard in explaining why people behave as they do. Developing talent able to understand the analytic intersection of these new methods is critical for long-term success.
For providers of research tools and community software (like Passenger), the imperative is to build products that enable fast, efficient insights that meet researchers’ needs to understand behavior. Communities that run parallel to big data analysis programs, for example, can provide the insights to understand patterns in the data collected from these programs. The GRIT data indicate that communities continue to be one of the fastest and consistently growing methodologies surveyed – over the last four surveys fielded from 2013 to 2015, community usage has grown from 45% to 59%. Passenger’s own business has been fueled in part by client usage of communities to better understand behavioral patterns from other data sources.
In summary, the trends in the GRIT Report speak to the need for researchers to adopt and master an increasing array of methodologies that allow for better measurement – mobile – increase the availability of data – big data and social listening – and provide the qualitative and quantitative tools to more effectively understand consumer attitudes and behavior – communities.
This ever-growing set of challenges creates opportunities for the research community. As management of information increasingly becomes a core competency for all industries, researchers will be at the center of the decisions leading to success for their companies and their clients. As these new services provide unparalleled understanding of the consumer, the multi-disciplinary talent to exploit these technologies holds the key to driving change in both present and future market researchers.
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