I was reading the article Trends That Will Shape Market Research In 2010 by Reineke Reitsma and it really got me thinking about my expectations for and my excitement about the market research industry in 2010. In the article, Reineke talks about three main trends: 1) global insights gaining in importance, 2) market research buyers consolidating vendors and 3) market researchers incorporating more innovative research methods into their research projects. Since the company I work for only conducts business in the United States, it was the second two bullets that resonated most with me.
While I definitely agree with Reineke that market research buyers will consolidate vendors, I don’t think that’s the most impactful 2010 change for me as a market research buyer. The most meaningful change is the innovation in data collection expected in 2010.
When I started as a market research assistant at a market research supplier over 16 years ago, almost all of our projects were either mail or phone-based. As the years went on, mail surveys fell by the way side and companies focused their resources on phone-based interviews. After a number of years, the industry progressed to automated phone interviews (interviews in which the customer would stay on the line after a customer service call for a brief, pre-recorded survey in which the respondent would just press a number for or say their response). Then fast forward another 5 or so years and we are doing e-mail surveys. We have now progressed to where we are doing data collection through online communities and forums. And now in 2010, here’s why I am so very excited—a focus on data collection through social media.
The collection of data through social media is so very exciting for me because it addresses the biggest issue I have had with online interviewing (mainly e-mail based surveys) and that is “proof” of identity of the respondent. While I have fewer issues with respondent identity when it comes to online forums and communities because you can control that a little better, with e-mail surveys you have no idea who is completing your survey—in addition to getting little in terms of quality open-ended comments. I had the same issue with mail surveys by the way. In my humble opinion, I believe that you can be more certain that data collected through social media is a true representation of your respondents than you can be with data collected through e-mail surveys. And thus, your segmentations of data collected through social media should be of higher quality than that done for e-mail based survey data.
All of that said, test before you leap! Set aside a small portion of your market research budget to test social media data collection to make sure it works for you before you allocate large percentages of your budget to it (and waste the money). This method will be great for some and useless for others.
So 2010 is going to be an exciting year of change for the market research industry. I can’t wait!