Key Observations for MR Industry

Fall 2014 GRIT Report commentary by Mark Simon, Managing Director, North America at Toluna, sharing his thoughts on the current state of the market research industry.

As always, reading the GRIT report provides a sense of the next wave of evolution we’re experiencing in our industry.  Over the last few years, we’ve seen ‘emerging trends’ quickly become commonplace for market researchers. Finally, I’d like to think that market research can start to discard the generalization that our industry is conservative and slow to adopt new approaches.

A few years ago, at the annual CASRO conference, Simon Chadwick opened his presentation with a slide that simply said “Market Research is Dead.”   Interestingly, quite the opposite has transpired for us – we’ve adapted. Market Research is certainly not dead; we’ve seen our industry rise to the occasion, and become expert at identifying new opportunities to leverage new technologies, new forms of data, and provide clients with more complete information. 

When we look at areas of growth within this year’s GRIT report, we see that Social Media Analytics, Big Data Analytics, Crowdsourcing, Research Gamification, Mobile Qualitative, Prediction Markets, Behavioral Economics Models and more are the market research techniques that we feel will continue to grow in the future.  Some of these practices are entirely new disciplines and their emergence suggests that the patient isn’t on life support but is experiencing a new lease of life.  Furthermore, market research professionals are now looking beyond the traditional quantitative or qualitative approaches to and themselves as “Advanced Analytics,” or “Social Media Researchers,” embracing new roles, and again, evolving our perception of market research. 

When we think about ‘Big Data,’ we are just beginning to take steps to better leverage available data within our research programs.   I believe that market research professionals are well-suited to assume the responsibility for harnessing the potential that ‘Big Data’ provides, but we have a lot to learn.  For many of us, this means that we need to ‘change the tires while driving the bus.’ In other words, how can we harness the potential of Big Data while simultaneously designing systems and processes that will enable better business decisions? We should be aware that cutting through data paralysis is top of mind for many client-side decision-makers, and the professionals that best accomplish this will have a better seat at the boardrooms around the world.

What is clear is that technology provides the means by which we can work faster, and smarter.   We operate in an industry where insight is valued, but cost is a primary driver for decision-making purposes.  Technology and DIY are critical as more and more time is to be spent on insight generation, and less and less time, or money, spent on data collection and fieldwork. 

After reading the report, I am energized by the opportunity that presents itself.  We continue to work in a dynamic, ever-changing environment.  Our outlook for 2014 is one of growth, and it seems that market research professions with longstanding careers continue to challenge themselves to adapt to the new world order.  I see us evolving our look at market research to adapt to these changes, and this report covering emerging topics such as the internet of things, 3D printing and smart device measurement in the not so distant future. 

This content was originally published by Toluna . Visit their website at

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