9 Future Trends in Market Research for 2018

What does 2018 have in store for research? The market research industry looks to be disrupted by technology and new regulation in 2018, with the rise of automation, new methodologies and the impact of GDPR. Here are my 10 future trends in research.

1. Big Data Methodology

Big data will disrupt current market research methodologies as this source of data will be integrated with survey data. Big data findings can be discussed and analysed with research panelists to develop meaningful insights, perhaps through online communities. Big data may also be a source for data for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning tools, which could inform the gaps in knowledge and create efficient surveys. Big data could also better inform businesses on customer behaviour, which could also add insight into the customer journey map and behavioural economic models as well as providing more accurate segmentation of the market.

2. Blockchain-Based Market Research

As distributed ledger technology gains popularity, blockchain will disrupt market research. Customers will have more control over their personal data. Blockchain is set to to have a wide impact across businesses, there will be records of information that market researchers can analyse to gain insight on customer behaviour. With advancements in AI technology and the reduced costs of data storage, market researchers will be able to store and analyse more data to improve their understanding of the customer.

3. Automation and AI

Automation will impact market research in myriad ways.

1. Sampling automation will give market researchers a competitive advantage, drawing upon big data.

2. Agile MR and automation together will provide faster projects for clients at a competitive price, such as ResponseNow.io.

3. Automation will speed up the analysis of survey data, charting results, analysing social media and text data predominantly, using AI, which can also identify gaps in knowledge about the customer.

4. AI could draw upon a range of data sources aside from big data through scraping the internet such as forums and exchanges on social media beside surveys designed to triangulate the dataset. AI and ML will contribute toward mining huge datasets to enable market research to gauge drivers for adverts and concepts and so forth, to evaluate what makes a product or service ‘sticky’.

4. Need for Advanced Analytical Skillset

Automation will give rise to analytical and interpretation skills, in particular advanced analytical skills to understand, digest and pull-out insights from a range of data. Market researchers may need skills in statistics, data science and experimental design as well as having a good understanding of business to elicit meaningful insight for actionable recommendations that will add value.

5. Impact of GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will impact on the market research industry, particularly when conducting large-scale research. Permission-based services will become key. GDPR will allow customer data to be used that has been given informed consent, which in 2018 will drastically reduce the amount of data available to an organisation whilst meeting the new standards and producing an audit trail that proves consent was provided. For market researchers, this will mean being transparent in how the data will be used and if this will be going to a third party, using consent forms in the research process and securely store and share customer data.

6. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for Research

AR and VR could be used in market research and user research where situations are modelled and the product or service is used, in a closely simulated an environment where customers would be likely to use it. Modelled environments could be used alongside biological information such as heart rate to collect data on the customer’s use of the product or service. The environment may be used to test out immersive stories that are used as marketing tools. However, the disadvantage to this, is the cost of modelling the environment, which over time may reduce as the technology evolves.

7. Market Research for Startups

Customer discovery is a key part of Eric Reis’s Lean Startup model. There is a shift in the idea of building the product or service first, without a customer as part of the user research or having no in-depth understanding of the market space, toward the startup being a ‘temporary organisation’ searching for a repeatable, scalable business model. Market research is a key part of information gathering for startups. There is a growth in startups in the UK, perhaps leading to a higher demand in market research and user research. As technology improves, particularly AI, startups may find market research more affordable.

8. Rise of Customer Engagement using Emotion

When appealing to and engaging with customers, emotion is a key player. Understanding, testing and evaluating the 'right' mix of emotions for improved customer engagement may in 2018, increase due to developments in neuro-analysis and biometrics of emotion detection as opposed to asking a survey. These emotions can be displayed through effective storytelling to emotionally engage customers as customers ‘buy-into’ stories that are brought to life. Smartphones could also be used to evaluate neuromarketing through advancements in emotion detection.

9. Right-Time Data

As pressures rise for companies to engage customers through personalise experiences, services and products, marketing departments may need more ‘real-time’, and 'right-time’ data from customers (geolocation, wearables etc) to improve touch points through customer journey map, better understand the decision making process and gain insight into customer personas.

What do you think 2018 will bring?

Sources: LinkedIn, GreenBook, Quirks, Vision Critical, Forbes and Raconteur.