Bounce Insights

The Future of Market Research
Robert Kelly
By: Robert Kelly
Updated: Sep 09, 2022 12:00
Posted: August 16 2021 at 10:00

Table of Contents

Introduction

Behavioural data collection and interpretation at scale will continue to transform market research around the world. The combination of authentic survey responses with passively collected data on consumer behaviour allows researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind human decision-making.

However, as market researchers have been slow to adopt this new technology relative to peripheral industries, the leveraging of behavioural data collection is in its infancy. If market research is to mirror the transformation of these other industries, the next few years are set to bring about colossal change for brands and researchers alike.

Blending Data for Richer Insights

Researchers often feel threatened by non-primary data sources. However, it’s important to recognise that observed behaviour is designed to complement, not compete with reported data. Passive data, in its simplest form, is defined as data that we don’t ask for but use other methods to collect. Traditionally research has relied almost solely on primary data collection methods which, although insightful, don’t always get to actual consumer behaviours.

The companies at the forefront of transforming research are doing industry-disrupting work like mining large unstructured data sets, moderating large-scale focus groups via chatbots or even interpreting emotional reactions in surveys. As researchers, the objective is to figure out how to embrace technology solutions and new methods that not only provide greater results for clients but allow you to focus on higher-value activities.

Passive data is the future of market research. As the industry continues to evolve, embracing this new method of data collection will not only improve your understanding of the customer, it will be essential to staying competitive and driving growth. The goal will be to blend as many reliable data sources as possible in a scalable way, to deliver actionable insights into consumer groups around the world. What is the device that is best suited to capturing these data sources quickly, reliably and ethically? You guessed it, it’s mobile…

Key Benefits to Market Researchers

The deeper problem. however, is that the industry still heavily relies on surveys. In fact, ESOMAR estimates that 80% of global research budgets are spent on surveys. Despite improvements from moving online and the most recent shift towards mobile, the reality is that surveys have not changed in dozens of years, and they are deeply flawed.

The next wave of market researchers will find ways to blend and combine survey and behavioural data sets to unearth deeper insights, but this still remains a tiny proportion of the industry. This leaves many researchers ignoring the key benefits listed below that are realised by blending behavioural and survey data:

Removing Bias: Real-world behavioural data is that it does not rely on human memory or the inevitable bias. Instead, this data essentially allows a market researcher to observe how, when, and what panel participants do, providing significantly richer, more complete, and more accurate data.

Greater Access to Data: As it is far easier to share passive data than answer questions, it is possible to build massively larger panels of behavioural data. Instead of being limited by studies that have thousands or tens of thousands of respondents, a market researcher can work with data from literally millions of people. This allows for greater insights, deeper cutting of the data, and more granularity.

Real-Time Insights: Behavioural data can be collected in real-time, and thanks to advances in cloud computing, can also be processed programmatically. This allows researchers to analyse data in hours, rather than the weeks, if not months it would have taken to collect, process, and analyse surveys. In a fast-changing world, the speed of insights can be the difference between growth and decline, and with behavioural panels, researchers can have it nearly instantly.

The market research industry is ripe for disruption, and the data available to consumer insights professionals is about to expand from pure survey driven, to data sets that combine behavioural and observed data. This is a terrific opportunity that will enable companies to generate richer, deeper, and more actionable insights than were ever possible before.

Passive Data Collection

Researchers often feel threatened by non-primary data sources. However, it’s important to recognize observed behaviour is designed to complement, not compete with reported data.

passive data is best (and most simply!) defined as data we don’t ask for but use other methods to collect. Traditionally research has relied almost solely on primary data collection methods which, although insightful, don’t always get to actual consumer behaviours.

The companies really at the forefront of AI in research are doing some pretty impressive industry-disrupting work like mining large unstructured data sets, moderating large-scale focus groups via chatbots or even interpreting emotional reactions in surveys. I see a lot of runway for AI to really revolutionize traditional research methods. As researchers, our job is to figure out how to embrace technology solutions and new methods that not only provide more actionable results for our clients but that also allow us to focus on high-value activities, like insights generation!

Obstacles: Whenever you’re working with disparate data sources it can be challenging to understand how to combine them in meaningful ways. This isn’t so much a data processing skill as it is a data architecture skill- something that researchers haven’t been traditionally trained to tackle.

Passive data is the future of market research. As the industry continues to evolve, embracing this new method of data collection will not only improve our understanding of the customer, it will be essential to staying competitive and driving growth.

Why Behavioural Data

Behavioural science offers a realistic understanding of human behaviour through an empirical process with the potential to change consumer journeys and user experiences.

Market research is about influencing human behaviour. And behavioural science – which, by the way, is what everyone is doing – is the study of how humans behave, and why they do what they do.

Future of Market Research – Blending Data

The most progressive consumer insights professionals will find ways to blend and combine survey and behavioural data sets to find the growth levers that will propel their business forward

Market research professionals heavily rely on surveys. In fact, ESOMAR estimates that 80% of global research budgets are spent on surveys. While surveys have benefited from a dramatic move towards online, and now a slow crawl towards mobile, the reality is that surveys have not changed in dozens of years. Market Research data is still fundamentally about asking consumers questions and hoping they remember and provide good answers

We live in a world where almost every interaction we have can create a little digital data crumb. Not only is this true in online web browsing, but even our offline activity can be recorded thanks to the massive proliferation of smartphones and the large number of sensors packed into each of them.

The benefits of  behavioural data

The first benefit of real-world behavioural data is that it does not rely on human memory or the inevitable bias. Instead, this data essentially allows a market researcher to observe how, when, and what panel participants do, providing significantly richer, more complete, and more accurate data.

A second major benefit is that because it is much easier for panellists to install an app and share data than it is to painstakingly answer 80 questions, it is possible to build massively larger panels of behavioural data. Instead of being limited by studies that have thousands or tens of thousands of respondents, a market researcher can work with data from literally millions of people. This allows for greater insights, deeper cutting of the data, and more granularity.

Finally, behavioural data can be collected in real-time, and thanks to advances in cloud computing, can also be processed programmatically. This allows researchers to analyze data in hours, rather than the weeks, if not months it would have taken to collect, process, and analyze surveys. In a fast-changing world, the speed of insights can be the difference between growth and decline, and with behavioural panels, researchers can have it nearly instantly.

The future of market research has never been brighter and the data available to consumer insights professionals is about to expand from pure survey driven, to data sets that combine behavioural and observed data. This is a terrific opportunity that will enable companies to generate richer, deeper, and more actionable insights than were ever possible before

Passive Tracking

Unlike the above methods, passive metering is a technique used to collect objective information about stable facts, not sentiments. Market researchers can now see what consumers are doing on their phones, tablets, and desktops with installable tracking software. With permission from consumers, clickstream data can be passively collected about the websites visited, keywords searched, and apps used across all devices.

Passively metering consumers, in conjunction with other forms of market research, can help us capture a holistic view of who our targets are, what their opinions are, and what their behaviours are like

It not only helps us identify both the opinions and behaviours of our consumers, but gives us the opportunity to interpret why there’s a discrepancy between the two

Why Consumers Get Involved

Four things: trust, security, sense of importance, and incentives.

Trust and security go hand in hand when developing a reliably responsive panel. When collecting behavioural data, some of the information can contain very sensitive and personal information. It’s critical that the strictest privacy controls to suppress personally identifiable information (PII) is developed to ensure the privacy and security of panellists. On top of that, you have to ensure the panellists are well aware that their personally identifiable information will always be secure and never sold to outside sources. When the panellists understand and believe their information is secure, they entrust you with their data… As long as they get something in return.

People genuinely like feeling important and knowing others want to hear from them. Being a panellist can potentially fulfil the need of wanting to contribute to something in this world. To perpetuate the sense of importance, and also improve the quality of a panel, recruit panellists by invitation only. Receiving an invite to something exclusive and holding a coveted spot on a highly regarded panel is great for self-esteem.  

Then, of course, there are tangible rewards. It’s fairly simple to collect information about people as long as they are rightfully reimbursed with giveaways, cash, or points to redeem gifts of their own choice. Why the panellists will continually come back and provide data comes down to psychology. It’s a combination of instant gratification and positive reinforcement. Every time a panellist provides information or agrees to be tracked, they automatically receive a reward for doing so. Panellists then learn that when they complete an action, they will receive something positive in return. Win-win.

Essentially, panellists will willingly agree to provide private information to a company that they trust and feel rewarded by. If you seek out a panel company that can manage to do just that, then acquiring behavioural data the right way should never be a risk.

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