As technology accelerates, it’s impact is being felt in all aspects of our lives, and market research is no different. The last couple of years has seen a big shift in how market researchers are connecting with survey takers, the methodology they’re using to collect such data, and the speed in which it’s being collected.
All this has meant changes for respondents – some more obvious than others. Here are some changes that are already happening, and ones we expect to continue:
More mergers and acquisitions
2016=2017 past year has seen some pretty big shakeups with online survey panels. SSI took over Instant.ly (and most recently, took over Research Now in 2018), survey panels including YourWord and Media Insiders fully closed, and MyView and Zoom Panel merged with CriticalMix’s newer panel, OneOpinion.
As market research companies seek to lower their costs and simplify their panel offerings, they have aggressively started to consolidate the number of survey panels they operate. Old communities are being merged with new ones, unprofitable ones are closing, and mergers are becoming commonplace.
The market research industry’s new preference then, seems to lie with operating one or two large online survey panels instead of multiple small ones, or none at all if any of them start losing money.
More specialized communities
New specialized communities are becoming more and more pervasive. While new traditional online survey panels are thinning out, custom communities specifically built around a brand or an interest are booming.
These communities are typically invitation-only, and limit recruiting new users to a fixed period of time (typically when the community is first established). With survey software becoming more user-friendly, company brands can easily create these communities using market research software, and are no longer fully dependent on market research companies conducting the studies for them; by way of this software, companies can now survey their community members almost instantly, and communicate with them whenever they please.
More survey apps and browser add-ons
Mobile survey apps and browser add-ons are not new in themselves, but you may have noticed that many new survey communities have begun requiring their users to use these tools.
Relatively new offerings such as ShopTracker, and SavvyConnect provide opportunities to earn rewards passively via a simple download, while survey apps like QuickThoughts make it easy to take surveys directly from your phone. Internet meters (which anonymize user data) like Smart Panel are also gaining steam, as companies begin to see the value in how time online is being spent.
Expect to see more such mobile apps, browser downloads and internet meters versus traditional desktop-only survey panels. Just as Nielsen is evolving with the times and is phasing out paper diaries for their tv ratings system, expect new market research communities to evolve into more than just collecting online survey responses.
More survey routers
Being connected to a survey routers provided by companies like Cint (who connects survey takers to thousands of surveys available on their platform), are becoming a regular sight after completing an online survey.
Market research companies who offer their own surveys, but who only have a limited number of studies available for their panelists at any given time, are now, more than ever, trying to monetize their existing survey takers. This often takes the shape of offering up their own studies to their respondents, then connecting them with external survey routers which pays them (and the survey taker) every time a survey is successfully completed via the router.
As competition continues to become more fierce, survey panels are doing what they can to decrease their costs and increase revenue.
Integration with other technologies
You may have already experienced taking a short touch-screen survey on an iPad or other POS (point of sale) device after paying for a cup of coffee at your local coffee shop. Restaurants and other businesses who are small and can easily survey their customers using iPads, or big businesses who offer self-checkouts with quick surveying capabilities, are seeing the value in integrating customer surveys with their checkout processes. After all, a happy customer is likely a repeat customer!
On a consumer level, SSI has been experimenting with administering surveys via Amazon Echo Dot. Imagine being able to do housework while answering surveys out loud! This type of multitasking and integration with regular activities will enable market research to be less disruptive to consumers, as it slowly fuses itself with other technologies we use regularly.