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MR’s Hopeful But Cautious Approach to Mobile, Online Communities and Social Analytics

Winter 2014 GRIT Report commentary by Robert Clancy, sharing his thoughts on the current state of the market research industry.

The saying, “all or nothing” does not typically apply to Market Researchers. As pioneers, we’re certainly excited and dazzled by new technology, but as researchers, we are methodical in approach, and as a consequence, not always the earliest of adopters until a case has been proven – or budgets allow for this kind of exploration. This year’s GRIT Dashboard revealed the tension between progress and pushback.

Two-thirds of all respondents report feeling inhibited from using certain methodologies such as gamification, online communities, mobile, social analytics and crowdsourcing.
At the same time, respondents indicate that the top three methodologies of the future are online communities, mobile, and social analytics. This contradiction indicates definite interest, but hesitation to go “all in” until clients and suppliers presumably see more proof of how insights produced through these methods can impact business and/or until their companies are willing to commit more dollars.

The report reveals a few things that have impacted the way data are collected: One, the increased use of mobile technologies and non-traditional research techniques, and two, client budget constraints. Given the latter point, it’s not surprising that clients admit to taking more of the research in-house, especially as it applies to social media analytics. This is a technique that is more easily in-sourced than, for example, creating and managing an online community – another popular methodology amongst suppliers.

Overall, the dashboard revealed increased usage of online and mobile methodologies in the quant space and a decrease in face-to-face interviewing – with respondents naming mobile among their top three methodologies to leverage in the near future. But while it’s arguable that the future belongs to mobile research, it still remains an underutilized platform, only accounting for about five percent of total research conducted. Why the gap?

The majority said they feel inhibited from using this new technology. At the same time, “technology limitations” are the primary reason respondents cite for not using mobile. The data suggest that suppliers and clients simply do not believe or do not realize how far the technology has already been developed. Alternatively, they might not have seen enough clear proof that mobile works. Either they have not fully investigated mobile options, or we need to do a better job of educating them about the feasibility of mobile.

There is obviously interest in mobile and people recognize it as an important methodology for the future, but several factors, like those described above, are holding researchers back. Once the technology is completely proven and researchers start to see the power of the insights mobile can provide, then we should start to see mobile acceleration. It won’t happen overnight, though. It takes time for a new methodology to gain universal acceptance, and online is still, by far, the most trusted and utilized research methodology.

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