Living and Dying Market Research Trends

Summary: 2011 trends in the market research industry: Democratization, commoditization, segmentation, brand research, and online qualitative research.

4 minutes to read. By author Michaela Mora on March 8, 2011
Topics: Business Strategy, Market Research, Market Research Cartoons

Market Research Trends in 2011

The market research trends in 2011 are becoming apparent. The market research field is going through changes driven in part by the advent of new data collection technologies, increased competition in almost any product category, and research clients’ limited resources in terms of budget and staff.

In my opinion, many of these changes are here to stay and will continue to be “hot” trends to consider in years to come.

Top 5 Hot, Living Market Research Trends

  • Democratization of research:  Thanks to cheap online data collection tools for both quantitative and qualitative research more companies are doing surveys and using online tools for qualitative research. This has also accelerated the proliferation of DIY research. DIY is here to stay, but vendors will still be needed to provide expertise and objective insights.
  • Commoditization of research: In an effort to save money, many companies have laid off many experienced (and more expensive) market researchers, and replace them with DIY research teams with less experienced staff.  It seems many companies are designed to get “good enough” research as long as it is fast and cheap. Unfortunately, this attitude combined with access to inexpensive data collection tools has often a negative impact on the quality of research. Many companies that still use research vendors, are creating smaller preferred research vendor lists (with the risk of overpaying for services due to lack of competition) and are handing vendor selection to Procurement departments, which have a hard time realizing research services are not widgets. On the agency side, off-shoring of many tasks of the research process that have become commodities will continue to grow for cost-saving purposes.
  • Use of market segmentation research: More and more companies are realizing that the “one-size” fits all approach doesn’t work in today’s market place where customers have so many options available, so market segmentation research will continue to be of great interest to marketers and research clients to increase marketing strategy effectiveness.
  • Use of branding research: Like market segmentation, branding is top of mind for companies looking for differentiation. Companies need to understand sources of brand equity in order to find a brand positioning that resonates with target audiences.
  • Increased use of new online and mobile qualitative research techniques: Qualitative research has seen an explosion of online data collection tools that allows capturing data faster, cheaper and in large quantities, breaking geographic barriers and giving access to hard-to-get groups and real-time consumption occasions. These techniques have revitalized the qualitative research field and their use will continue to grow.

On the other hand, some practices are bound to die with time as they don’t add values to research users or new affordable research alternatives become available.

Top 5 Dying Market Research Trends

  • Rely only on one data collection methodology: Almost all sample sources suffer from coverage bias nowadays. We know we can’t reach all groups online and more and more households are dropping their LAN lines and becoming cell-phone-only households. The use of hybrid data collection methods will become a requirement for many research studies.
  • Provide data without insights and marketing implication: The days of the big “data-dump” are numbered.  More and more clients are requiring insights and strategic recommendations that can be derived from the data.
  • Long research reports: In the current culture of sound bites and fast Twitter-like messages, few decision-makers have the will and time to sit and read thick research reports full of charts and comments. Top-line reports with only a few slides highlighting key findings and insights are becoming the norm.
  • Wait for big “in-depth” research projects to gather insights: The highly competitive environment is pushing companies to increase the pace at which they make business decisions. Nobody has time to wait until large research projects are completed, and many small projects are deployed to answer tactical questions.
  • Reliance on “gut feeling”: More and more companies are realizing the importance of using key performance metrics, which often include customer feedback. Often, there is too much at stake to rely only on “gut feeling” in decision making. Many companies are harnessing the power of their customer databases to gather insights on what course of action to take. Database analytics combined with primary research will be used more and more to understand customer behavior and its motivators and thus provide support for smart business decision making.