Next Gen Market Research

Mobile’s Trajectory is Undeniable

Although traditional qualitative research methods remain highly useful and well received, constant technological innovations and trends are creating a new ground to adapt traditional methodologies and technology uses. In this new space, mobile trends are consistently reaching the forefront and are causing a pretty big stir within the industry.

In a recent Research Access article that transcribed a Market Research Trends 2012 webinar, panelists Leonard Murphy of the Greenbook Blog and Romi Mahajan of Metavana agreed that mobile will be a necessary market research component in the future. “Within the next two to three years, a device similar to– probably somewhat bigger than a iPhone, smaller than an iPad, will be the primary means of communication for our entire species, globally, period… So the impact of global cannot be underestimated, in particular in the emerging markets, because they will leapfrog the PC experience in almost it’s entirety. The growth of broadband and PC penetration in Africa, Latin America, and Asia Pacific is effectively already stopped. So there’s whole generations that will grow up that will look at a PC like we would look at a typewriter and just think it’s just an antiquated piece of technology. So their experience with communicating with each other and the world around them will be via this mobile device,” Murphy said.

Murphy believes that mobile’s true benefit lies in its ability to reach a large sample of research participants all around the world and at any time of the day or week. He anticipates that the future of participant sampling lies in a mobile app that allows users to opt into a virtual research panel and give their permission to send and receive certain amount of information. “That opens the door for an amazing opportunity to be able to engage with consumers 24/7/365, in most any situation that you can imagine, and to gain real feedback at the point of experience, whether that be at an event or while shopping or making purchases in a retail environment, whatever the case may be,” Murphy said. “We have the opportunity to engage them, if we make it a fun and rewarding and meaningful experience for them.”

Although the sampling capabilities are impressive, Mahajan, on the other hand, focuses on mobile’s ability to capture a participant within his or her context. He believes mobile’s best feature is its attachment to the consumer during the entire consumer experience. “For instance, if I leave a movie and I get on a mobile app to say if I like it or not, I’m right in the midst of that experience,” he said. “I’m in situ, as it were. And so when I think about mobile, I think about the fact that people are interacting on their mobile devices in a time and space in which their context is more profound, which is actually itself the benefit here.”

At 20/20, we agree wholeheartedly. If the goal of qualitative research is to gain access to the human emotional profile and how it affects our choices and behaviors, then this trend is an undeniable step in the right direction. And with our mobile research platform QualAnywhere, researchers can embrace consumers within their individual contexts to gain insights from real-time data.

How have you effectively used mobile in your qualitative research methods?

Positioning for the qualitative research industry of the future

Every conference, many blog posts and most conversations in the qualitative research industry center around the big question: what’s happening next?

Rapidly changing consumer behavior, technology advances and a horizon that is unclear to most marketers creates fear and opportunity. But the leaders in the qualitative research industry, and the future leaders of whatever this industry looks like, are focusing on accepting change and uncertainty, and creating their own future.

It’s about positioning. Listen to some leading voices and what they have to say:

In answer to the question that emerged from his appearance at the MRIA conference in British Columbia last week, “What is Next Gen Market research?,” Tom H.C. Anderson says the following at Next Gen Market Research:

” Importantly, the goal for all of us needs to be to resist further commoditization and cost cutting. Instead let’s increase the value of insights. I believe part of this will have to do with positioning. If you are on the qualitative side the goal will be greater creativity, more ‘marketing’ in both cases. We need to become more than traditional researchers while retaining the methodological principles which have served us well for many years.”

Says Ray Poynter, about the future of market research, in an interesting article from his blog, The Future Place:

“Although I think our business model is probably endangered, I think the future looks great for talented individuals. I think the opportunities for people who can understand a client’s needs, create a method of finding the answers, synthesise several streams of information, and produce feedback that allows the client to make a better decision has never looked rosier.

Jim Bryson adds his own thoughts, taken from some recent remarks:

“Marketing research is changing fundamentally. Survey’s will continue to be around for quite a while but they will be more limited than now because so much more data will be available from other sources. We saw a glimpse of this trend when companies started data mining of shopper data. That is expanding geometrically with huge new databases and the coming capabilities to gain true insights from social media. There are literally dozens of trends that all point to a more diminished role for the traditional survey.

With change comes opportunity. We can now engage consumers in a more complete way than 50 years ago. Compare current ethnography capabilities (visits, mobile qualitative, online journaling, webcam interviews, etc.) with the door-to-door methods of 50 years ago and you see that the industry has come light years and that there are more opportunities now in the industry than ever before. We will advance more in the next 10 years than in the last 50 and the opportunities will be accelerated as well…for those who are willing to change.”

Jim notes what he heard from a Senior EVP from Coca-Cola at the past Advertising Research Foundation conference, “If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less.”

MR Heretic Isn’t All Gloom and Doom: Some Lessons on Qualitative Research From the Masked Cynic

Not every industry has its very own masked cynic — but we do! Followers of the market research industry online have likely come across the MR Heretic, who posts his (or is it her? or its?!) complaints about the market research industry over at the Market Research Death Watch blog. But before you waste too much time rolling your eyes (It’s OK — we spent several hours doing so), know that the MR Heretic actually makes some valid points. It’s not ALL “the end is near” and “market researchers are stupid.”

The shrouded cynic “sat down” recently with Tom Anderson of Next Gen Market Research for an “EXCLUSIVE” interview. Once you get past the feeling of “This is ridiculous…why is there such thing as the MR Heretic?” and “Is Tom just sitting there with a mirror in his hand?” there are a few good takeaways for those of you in the qualitative research industry. Such as:

  • One of the first pet peeves mentioned by the MR Heretic is that research companies have stopped (or never did?) treat respondents like human beings. We think that’s a touch dramatic, but it serves as a good reminder nevertheless: Treat your respondents well, respect what they say and appreciate the time they’ve given you. Doing that can only result in better data and insight. He boils it down: “Create a better respondent experience and you will gain the keys to the data kingdom.”
  • When asked what he thinks the industry will look like in 10 years, he responded: “Think back to the music industry in the days of vinyl records, tapes and CDs; now fast-forward to iTunes…this is going to be a bit like that.” More online qualitative research, anyone?

Is the market research industry slow to innovate?

I posted the following on Next Gen Market Research Linkedin Forum. The discussion is a great read.

I’m intrigued by Tom’s contention that brands are becoming more innovative than agencies. I must admit that is our experience as well.

I agree with the comments about institutional conservatism and that the personality of the researcher is to avoid risk. After all, a very valid definition of market research is to reduce the risk of a decision. However, the greatest barrier to innovation that we encounter is that research firms have “tried and true” methods for making money. Therefore, research firms are VERY risk averse so innovations have two major hurdles, effectiveness and profitability. These are huge hurdles
for innovation.

Brands, on the other hand, have different hurdles. Though they can be risk averse, their hurdles are more likely to be effectiveness and cost. Cost is hugely different than profitability. Since we are in the online qualitative research arena, we are seeing brands coming directly to us more now than in the 10 years we have been in this space. Brand innovators are pushing their research firms to deliver, but when they don’t, they are bypassing them with increasing frequency.

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