Editor’s note: Alexis Siegle is sample manager at Denver research firm iModerate. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title “7 Things That Market Researchers Have to be Thankful for This Season.”
Thanksgiving is over but the time to appreciate those things we sometimes take for granted is not. In the spirit of the holiday season, we take a look at seven growing trends/changes in market research for which we can all be thankful.
1) Social media and its hold on younger audiences
With the social media craze, younger audiences are now more readily accessible from both a marketing and research standpoint. Children under the age of 18 have deftly adapted social media into their everyday lives. Smartphones, tablets, laptops and other tech gadgets are becoming standard toys for this generation. With high-speed Internet, 3G/4G data plans and the prevalence of free Wi-Fi, this audience is just waiting to be tapped into. Companies can get real-time reactions to products and marketing campaigns. The insights from this typically hard-to-reach group might be closer than a tweet away.
2) A society of consumers who want to be involved
Whether it’s a brand utilizing consumer-generated content or media or an individual posting an impromptu review on their Facebook page, consumers are now in the mix at all times. They have been given, and now expect, the opportunity to speak out and have influence when it comes to the products and services they consume. So I ask, what could be better for an industry charged with obtaining consumer feedback than a population that’s increasingly eager to give it?
3) A older but technologically-savvy population
As with the younger audiences, we are noticing the Baby Boomers bucking the stereotypes as they become more technologically savvy. My grandmother not only uses e-mail and Google but also has an active Facebook account and gets her news online. Especially for insurance companies, consumer product retailers and travel companies, this more available audience allows market researchers to have more access to an increasingly advanced population.
4) Mobile technology
Although already briefly mentioned, mobile technology is something for which market researchers can be thankful. Having a smartphone or tablet on you at all times can be like having a market researcher in your pocket. E-mail invitations can now be checked at all times during the day. Also, many researchers are finding creative ways to ride along with consumers through texting and photo-capturing activities – all designed to glean insight.
5) Big data needs explanation
Data, data everywhere can mean tremendous things for our industry, especially in the qualitative arena. I think Andrew Needham, CEO of Face, said it quite well in his remarks at ESOMAR’s Qualitative 2012: “First of all, the big opportunity for us as qualitative researchers is that in a world of increasing data obesity there is going to be a massive need for more human analysis – more depth, more richness, more rigor, more clarity of insight – all the skills we can bring to the table as qualitative researchers – rather than less. We are perfectly placed from what I have read and seen at the conference to be the true custodians of insight.”
6) Wider international availability
As technology advances, the world becomes a bit smaller. Our reach across the globe is strengthened by technology. International respondents are more readily available and becoming more balanced in terms of the demographics of online survey-takers. This is vital to many worldwide companies when testing logos, slogans and concepts. The easier it is for market researchers to deliver well-rounded sampling in a particular country, the more accurate the findings will be.
7) Acceptance of varying qualitative methods
Last but certainly not least, we take time to share our gratitude for the growing popularity and acceptance of qualitative research methods. No longer is it simply a choice of focus groups or IDIs. Researchers can actually choose or craft a method that fits perfectly with their objectives as opposed to making their project fit a specific methodology. Whether it’s virtual ethnography, bulletin boards, online one-on-ones or communities, the more effective tools we have at our disposal, the richer the story will be.