As discussed in recent blogs, the adoption and implementation of online research communities across the globe has been profound. Looking back to the 2016 GRIT Report, ‘Mobile Surveys’ and ‘Online Communities’ are now mainstream, and well ahead of all other “new” research approaches. Some 74% of respondents are using mobile surveys in 2016, while 61% use online communities. These two approaches also show the largest growth in adoption (10%), underscoring the trend towards agile research.
However, the technology required to meet the growing needs of these new research techniques has not kept pace with these trends. Current solutions involve make-shift websites, mobile-optimised browsers that fall short of lofty customer expectations on user experience, and platforms that leave the search for digestible insight long and tedious as clients find themselves overwhelmed with data from multiple sources.
In order to understand how technology can accelerate the adoption of online research communities, one must look back in order to move forward.
The Last 5 Years – Key Trends
- Automation: Clients expect research reports to be at their disposal at the earliest possible time. The rapid investment in automated technology will create some of the largest changes for the market research industry. Developments in areas such as machine learning, and artificial intelligence enable faster report creation and text analytics. Thereby, researchers can invest their efforts into story-telling and problem solving rather than spending more time on manual research.
- Quality, not Quantity: Now that technology has been developed, it provides access to untold quantities of data. Researchers have now in the latter years of the previous decade, begun work on refining these technologies in order to get to better-quality data. In fact, that is precisely where the market research trends seem to be heading for the next five years converging in the future: in the pursuit of quality over quantity.
- Customer Centricity: The last five years of technology advancements means that companies can make faster, more informed decisions whilst still keeping customers at the heart of everything they do. There has been an emphasis on multiple, richer data sources from a far wider range of research techniques.
The Next 5 Years – Key Trends
- Respondent Experience: Some researchers are all about the latest and greatest tool, which can overcomplicate a simple research study by incorporating the latest bells and whistles. For the respondent, there is a need to keep things as simple, clear, and straightforward as possible – respondent experience, just like customer experience, will become paramount when deciding on research methods in the future.
- Agility: Agile market research is an approach that takes its inspiration from agile software development which values: numerous small experiments over a few large bets, rapid iterations over big-bang campaigns, testing and data over opinions and conventions, and responding to change over following a plan. The true power for businesses today is the ability to be agile: to adapt to what’s rapidly happening around them. Businesses need relevant, actionable data and insights faster than ever. Consequently, technology assisted agile research is a test, measure, and learn approach to enable rapid decision-making.
- New Communication Methods: Major advances in communication technology lead to much bigger changes by affecting how we think, behave, and structure our worlds — changes well beyond how we exchange information. We are just starting to see the impact of advances in modern communication technology, and MR must evolve rapidly if we are to have a chance at understanding the consumers of tomorrow. Soon, this technology will enable us to understand audio, text, and any other form of unstructured and structured data to build a holistic picture of a consumer. In the future, technology will enable brands to achieve instant these insights at scale.
- Democratised Insights: As discussed in our recent blog, this is perhaps the most powerful trend sweeping the research world, as insight becomes multi-dimensional and transcends organisational boundaries.
What Needs to Change?
Email / Website vs. Mobile Solutions
- According to data by PureSpectrum, 50-65% of online surveys are currently being taken on mobile devices, rising to 90% within the next five years. Yet, over 90% of surveys are sent out via email at present. This distribution method and respondent-experience are simply not fit for purpose.
- Everything a consumer touches runs through mobile apps and native experiences, and new solutions must fit seamlessly into the day-to-day lives of consumers if researchers are to truly connect with respondents.
- Expectations are sky-high for the attention of consumers, yet researchers can’t meet these lofty demands due to outdated solutions such as email and websites for online survey distribution or research communities. Mobile solutions open up incredible opportunities which we explore in a future blog.
Single Focus vs. Multi Purpose
- Surveys remain the primary source of research for companies around the world, yet they are one-dimensional in many cases. With the growth of data sources, there is a need for a more meaningful combination of research methods to understand consumers.
- As communication methods have changed, researchers must evolve with them, requiring multiple sources of data in multiple forms to gain a holistic understanding of consumers.
- That is why surveys must adapt from being the hub, to one of many spokes that keep the insight wheel spinning in a communities-led approach. As discussed in previous blogs, communities are multi-purposeful.
- Not only do you gain insight through quantitative analysis, you can combine this with diaries, quizzes, games, idea generation forums, creative testing and a range of other methods to gain customer loyalty, increased sales, brand affiliation and deep understanding of your most important customers. Communities are the future of market research.
Centralised Platform for Insights
- As automation, customer-centricity and the democratisation of insights rises to the top of the market research agenda, there is a need to organise and manage this data meaningfully.
- Current platforms struggle to combine all data sources in a way that anyone across an organisation can benefit from the on-going insight being captured on customers. The next five years will see every department across an organisation provided with the confidence and capacity to dip into an insights platform which has been crafted from multiple sources, through multiple methods in a centralised system to aid decision-making.
- This is an unenviable task, but one that will reap huge rewards for an industry desperate for speed, agility and convenience.
As researchers continue to evolve and embrace new methodologies, new technologies will emerge that can accelerate the adoption of online research communities. These communities will be mobile-focused, multi-purposeful and draw on a plethora of data points. This will revolutionise how organisations capture, digest and implement insight when making decisions in years to come.