Connecting with Consumers Online, Globally

Many of us in the market research industry, ourselves included, have set our sights and minds on the future, wondering what the industry will look like over the next couple of years. Over a series of blog posts, we will analyze the top three trends that we foresee in market research. Based on what we’ve seen in the past, the companies that will have the greatest impact on the industry will be those that strike a balance between innovation and utility. If you haven’t already, be sure to read the introduction to this series, Top Three Trends in Market Research for an Innovative Future.

Slow adoption by research buyers

Over the past half century, we have witnessed slow adoption of new technologies in the market research industry, especially in qualitative research. When we think about qualitative market research, most people still immediately associate it with in-person research done in facilities. This has many negative connotations: tiring, expensive, travel. Nonetheless, the industry still remains stagnant. Why?

Here’s our theory.

While traditional methods worked well in the past, they can’t keep up with the demands of today. Times have changed and the market research industry needs to evolve with the times. Unlike even 10 years ago, today we’ve all grown used to living in an on-demand world. With continued evolution and digitalization of consumer lifestyles, the way that organizations work, think and connect with consumers must also evolve to most effectively connect with consumer behaviors and compete for their attention and loyalty.

Despite the rampant inefficiencies and frustration associated with conducting qualitative research by traditional methods (in-person research at facilities), the insights that brands can gain by speaking with consumers is still extremely valuable. Brands have not been presented with a strong enough benefit to warrant a change. For brands to make the switch, research providers and vendors will need to deliver a strong enough incentive (i.e. reduced time to market, deeper insights, etc.) to encourage them to abandon familiar methods.

Harnessing the tools of the modern age

While market research has remained stagnant, the digital world around us has blazed ahead at an impressive rate. It almost goes without saying that, if we want to keep up as an industry, we’ll need to harness the most powerful tool in recent history: the Internet. Of course, the discussion around online methodologies in market research is nothing new. Despite the solutions that exist, the industry is still slow to adopt online methodologies. In order to achieve adoption in the industry, we have to understand what advancements will and won’t work.

It’s not that traditional methods are necessarily bad, but the way the world operates has changed dramatically and it’s time that our industry adapts. If the vast majority of the industry is still relying on traditional in-person methods, then we need to understand why that is and incorporate those associated benefits into our new approaches. In order to create a solution for the modern age, we both need to retain the best practices that we learned from traditional methods, as well as improve upon those methods to meet the expectations of modern users.

Practices to keep from traditional methods:
  • Human connection and interaction
  • Valuable insights discovered by listening to consumers
  • Answering the “whys”
Aspects of traditional methods to improve upon:
  • Long lag time between project start and project completion
  • Lost time associated with travel
  • Lack of communication between brands and consumers
  • High costs

By harnessing the power of the Internet, we can get at the same answers faster, at a lower cost, and through a flexible and iterative process. Leveraging ubiquitous tools, like Internet browsers and webcams, we can still form human connections and gather rich insights, but without all of the hassle and inefficiency associated with traditional methods.

Global Reach – unraveling insights from consumers who were previously inaccessible

When you connect with consumers online, you eliminate the need for travel. This dramatically reduces the resources necessary to conduct each project. Cutting travel means that teams don’t have to spend days in field. By erasing geographic barriers, brands are able to expand their global reach and connect with consumers who were previously inaccessible to them, thereby broadening their understanding of markets. Finally, by not being dependent on physical locations, they are able to be more agile and conduct their research in multiple iterations.

The Next Step

Bringing research and consumer connections online is only the first step. Technological advancements in market research won’t stop there. In our next blog post, we’ll discuss how process automation will play a role in easily connecting with consumers, globally.

0