[GRIT COMMENTARY] Alternative Data Collection Methodologies
2016 Q3-Q4 GRIT Report commentary by Rick Kelly, VP Client Services, FUEL CYCLE, sharing his thoughts on the current state of the market research industry.
The low-hanging innovation fruit in market research has been picked. In the past three years, both mobile surveys and online communities have reached mainstream usage, but GRIT data highlights that adoption of alternative techniques, such as big data analytics and behavioral economics, has stalled. This is unfortunate, but not irreversible.
Joe Henrich, an acclaimed psychologist and economist, recently stated "When people learn [different] languages they may actually come to think about the world differently." So it is with insights. When we use multiple insights frameworks - the language of our profession - we gain perspectives not given by one methodology alone. At FUEL CYCLE, we believe deeply in the power of traditional surveys, but we are convinced that surveys should be augmented with other methodologies. This is why we have integrated tools for surveys, discussion boards, chat, videos and photos in our community platform – to provide both depth and richness through diverse methodologies.
Adoption of new technologies is essential to researchers in the coming age of automation and artificial intelligence. Advances in artificial intelligence mean that structured, repeatable tasks could be subsumed by AI within a year or two. Researchers slow to evolve with the progression of computing may find themselves less valuable than today. Adoption of techniques not yet to the point of automation - such as virtual reality or prediction markets - is important for researchers to provide value beyond “surveys and charts.”
Given that adopting multiple methodologies is innately valuable, questions remain: Why has adoption of alternative sources stalled? And what can be done to spur adoption? After examining 2016 GRIT data, the answer seems apparent – research buyers need more information from research suppliers.
Providing reliable insights is very important to research buyers. In the GRIT survey, respondents were asked to rank elements of a research project from most to least important. 70% of respondents said "That you/your clients trust your results" was one of the two most important elements of a research project and 51% of respondents said "That your research methodologies are tested and validated" were among the most important. In the case of new methodologies, buyers need to be confident the results are accurate, a challenge overcome through education.
Providers of alternative methodologies should provide greater education to buyers of market research. 41% of market research buyers said that "That your suppliers supply you with best practices" was among the most important components of research whereas only 15% of market research suppliers agreed. This discrepancy tells us that buyers expect to be educated by their vendors, but education is not prioritized by suppliers. Providing best practices and information could likely increase the adoption of alternative methodologies.
Our FUEL CYCLE team are great proponents of alternative methodologies. The proliferation of new technologies enables us to do more and create greater value than ever before - provided those technologies are implemented. Adoption of new techniques is challenging, but can likely be accelerated through useful education given by research providers.