Market research trends: 5 predictions about the future of insights

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Market research trends: 5 predictions about the future of insights

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The insights industry always moves fast and evolves quick, and this year promises to be the same. Wondering what’s ahead in market research? Here are five notable predictions and trends from industry experts.

Prediction 1: Chatbots

In an article for NewMR, market research thought leader Ray Poynter said companies need to pay more attention to chatbot-powered research tools. While they haven’t made an appearance yet on the GRIT report, a bi-annual study on the biggest trends in market research, chatbots are set for heavier adoption in the next year, according to Poynter.

I think 2019 is going to be a major breakthrough for [chatbots]. I would strongly suggest conducting a pilot with one or more of the leading players in the first half of 2019.

In Insight Platforms, Mike Stevens shared why chatbots have huge potential in research:

Chatbots for research are taking off: they can be quick, fairly unobtrusive, with a familiar interface and run natively inside other apps. They’re a stepping-stone to truly conversational feedback through intelligent voice agents—and they’re growing. You should think about giving them a go for certain use cases and target audiences.


Prediction 2: More mergers and acquisitions

The year 2018 saw plenty of consolidation, with Ipsos buying four global GfK Research divisions, Kantar merging four brands and SAP announcing its acquisition Qualtrics. In 2019, this trend will only accelerate, according to a couple of industry veterans, who shared their predictions in a GreenBook article written by Leonard Murphy.

Gary Laben, CEO of Dynata (formerly known as Research Now SSI), offered his take:

We will see even more mergers and acquisitions in 2019. While part of the reason for the consolidation is competitive and market pressure, another driver is the fact that data-driven marketing and advertising is in its next stage of its evolution. Previously, “big data” was the holy grail. However, the bar has been raised. Now, market researchers need to provide better insights and marketers want precise, reliable, and trustworthy data. And, this data is the sweet spot for online panel data providers. The need for data lakes anchored in actual people for better accuracy and for linking to customer and third-party data will accelerate mergers and acquisitions so that even larger, more complete, first-party data resources become available. Along with this, new quality metrics and standards will emerge.

Gregg Archibald, managing partner at Gen2 Advisors, echoed Labe’s prediction:

We will see another one or two acquisitions of research technology firms by CRM-ish type firms. This expands the footprint for the research technology company and provides a more holistic view of the customer for the CRM-ish company.


Prediction 3: From conversational marketing to conversational insights

In the same GreenBook article, Eileen Campbell, executive chair of the Reid Campbell Group, shared how the “conversational marketing” trend will spillover to the insights world.

In 2018, we’ve seen a lot of buzz about conversational marketing; in 2019, we’ll see this ‘conversational’ trend expand in insights. More than ever marketing teams need to get closer to their customers, but getting insights on the attitudes, motivations and behaviors of consumers is getting harder. Email and survey fatigue are big and very real issues that we need to contend with as an industry. When it comes to insights, marketers tend to rely too much on the same approaches and survey technologies, but it has never been more urgent to rethink that. Companies need to adopt conversational technologies (things like chats, voice and video solutions that run within messaging applications) to better engage with consumers for insight. These are technologies that consumers already widely use. I see a huge opportunity for conversational insight technologies to improve how companies reach, engage and provide real value to mobile-first consumers.


Prediction 4: More focus on “experience data”

In January 2019, SAP completed its $8-billion acquisition of Qualtrics—an eye-popping deal that puts the spotlight on the value of “experience data” and how it can help unlock important insights about customer behavior.

According to SAP, operational data—things like sales data, finance data, HR data—reveals only “what” people do, but not “why.” Experience data—which includes the beliefs, emotions and sentiments of customers—bridges this gap as it is feedback that comes directly from humans.

In a recent column for Entrepreneur, Andrew Reid, our CEO and Founder, shared his take on experience data.

What makes the SAP move notable is that it acknowledges in a significant way that operational data alone isn’t enough. The stunning price tag of the acquisition validates experience data as a valuable source of insight — perhaps more valuable than people thought before.

This high-profile acquisition should encourage more forward-looking CMOs to invest in experience data in the new year. Marketing has never been more difficult. Attention spans are short, there’s more competition, and there’s a lot of noise. The companies that will win are those that can connect emotionally with their customers — and this is insight that can come from experience data.

There are countless martech tools that uncover transactional data, and market research platforms have historically taken a very small percentage of the marketing budget. With experience data getting more attention, it’s a good bet this will change in 2019.

Andrew adds that to unlock the full potential of experience data, companies need to prioritize the user experience, take a mobile-first approach and commit to ongoing engagement. “Prioritizing the experience of today’s mobile-first consumers is imperative to getting more out of this powerful type of data,” he concluded.


Prediction 5: The rise of “experiential insights”

In NewMR, Matt Kleinschmit, CEO and Founder of Reach3 Insights, said he can see companies adopting more immersive approaches that capture consumer attitudes and behavior in one research experience.

Too good to be true? Maybe, but according to Matt, new research technologies are getting companies closer to this holy grail.

Increasingly, innovative approaches allow us to understand different aspects of the customer journey in one research experience. Through new conversational insight solutions, it’s now possible to capture people’s behaviors and opinions in the moment, while also contextualizing these data with highly emotive videos, images and emojis. For example, you could engage a customer in a research exercises while she’s in your store, asking if she’s noticed anything new, and capturing her stream-of-consciousness feedback via video or voice. This is a much better experience than asking for feedback a few days after the customer’s visit and then doing additional activities later to uncover qualitative insights. Plus, it’s just like how consumers already engage with their friends and family members.

The beauty of capturing immersive real-time quantitative and qualitative insights via conversational techniques (what I like to call truly “experiential insights”) is that it creates a win-win situation. It requires less time and effort from respondents because they are using messaging-based inputs they are well accustomed to, and it provides a faster way for brands to get deeper, more authentic insights. I suspect that in 2019 we’ll see agile enterprises increasingly tapping into the power of conversation-based experiential insights to get more timely and relevant feedback they can use to engage customers, build brands and drive growth.