The market research industry has evolved tremendously over the past few years and the most significant changes have been occasioned by technology. These changes have impacted the speed, accuracy, efficiency, utilization, cost, manpower, and the methods used to conduct research. As costs drop, even smaller firms are able to afford such services and make use of them in their businesses while the pool of available survey takers continues to grow.
The speed of research is faster than ever
Surveys and research that once took weeks or even months to conduct, is now completed in days, or even hours. This shortened turnaround time has made it possible for firms to make real-time decisions on how they conduct their business. Areas such as the communications industry can generate the results of research almost immediately, arming them with data insights they can utilize on the spot. This increased speed is mostly thanks to sophisticated apps and technological platforms that can generate outcomes by synthesizing thousands of data points in only milliseconds.
More online marketplaces
One of the most disruptive innovations in recent years has been the creation of online platforms where buyers and sellers of market research convene. These platforms have made it easy for clients to buy “sample” (survey responses) and to have their surveys up and running in no time.
Platforms such as CINT facilitate easy creation of surveys while eliminating layers of involvement by people in different departments.
Costs are decreasing
There are a number of factors that have driven the cost of market research down. One of the influential factors has been the reduction in manpower needed to conduct research; the proliferation of survey software has made it much easier for researchers to automate most of the survey process, so fewer people are involved in a research project (though jobs are still plentiful in new areas such as big data analysis, etc.)
Another factor is increased competition; survey software itself has become a very competitive business, driving down the cost of the research itself. As data sample providers such as SSI continue to expand their offerings, companies now have more access than ever to pools of survey takers.
Quality is improving
The use of survey software and the automation of most of the research processes have greatly improved the accuracy and reporting of market research. This automation has significantly reduced the number of people involved in the process of traditional research, thereby reducing the amount of human error.
Troubleshooting problems can be done in real-time, as problems with online studies can be addressed immediately. The days of throwing away research money because of an oversight on an inflexible postal survey, etc. are over.
Simplified programming tools
You no longer need to be a guru in market research IT to be able to utilize survey software. The focus on user-friendliness paired with low-level proficiency requirements, have made such tools more accessible than ever. Strong competition in the field has increased the quality of such tools, enabling big companies, governments, and even individuals to be able to generate research data at any time.
Excellent reporting insights automation
Modern day market research tools have allowed clients to be able to track the progress of their research, long before it’s complete. Generating detailed and exportable interim results and outcomes is perfectly possible and common.
A wide array of means representing data in the form of attractive and interactive graphs and charts is commonplace. This easy-to-interpret reporting makes it simpler to spot problems and anomalies, even as research results continue to pour in.
These different means of reporting especially come in handy when the outcomes are read by stakeholders who have different levels of data interpretation abilities.
It’s all mobile
Although the market research industry has been notoriously slow to adapt mobile technology, some firms are making good progress. Pew Research has increased their levels of mobile market research by 300% since 2008. This is critical, given that most people use their smartphones as their primary means of communication.
Even companies not traditionally associated with market research have been inspired to host their own simple surveys on their websites as an easy means of gauging their site’s audience.
Social media joined the party
There are a number of ways in which the social media phenomenon has transformed how market research is conducted. The social media platform is the largest place to conduct market research. Facebook has more than 1.2 billion denizens, Instagram (500m), Snapchat (300m), Twitter (300m), LinkedIn (500m), and these platforms offer easy ways of generating polls and surveys through which to get instant feedback. Some of research projects can be queued to last for a few hours to up a few days.
Enhanced data analysis
Data analytics has become a critical aspect of modern day market research. The rise of technology has made data analytics far easier and much more sophisticated. Such analytics has taken on a wide array of methodology and has also made it easier to increase the number of variables being tested, increasing the number of possible outcomes.
In a single instance, it’s possible to generate detailed analytics of a particular situation, and link it to seemingly disconnected issues. Of notable importance is big data analytics; there now exists great tools that can help clients sift through huge volumes of data and begin to generate critical and actionable business insights.
As technology improves, so will the means of data collection and the ways to generate insights from it. The changes will also create exiting new careers in the market research field while phasing out those that require few skills. Costs will continue to decrease, and newer tools and features will continue to flood the market. For every market research buyer and seller, the changes will bring new opportunities as well as challenges.