From Pony Express to Warp Speed: 5 Ways Market Research Will Evolve in 2015 and Beyond

From Pony Express to Warp Speed 5 Ways Market Research Will Evolve in 2015 and BeyondThe following is a guest contributed post from Kyle Henderson, Founder of YouEye.

Market research has been an important component of business since the first business defined the first target customer. Over the years, the approaches have evolved, but at its core, market research has always been about identifying market opportunities and customer preferences. Nowadays this has become more of a challenge for companies as the speed of business has accelerated.

Hundreds of thousands of new offerings, campaigns, apps, services, and products come to the market every day. Opportunities are ever changing. Companies that still rely on traditional focus groups, market research labs, or simple surveys find it difficult to collect rich, accurate, actionable intelligence that they can apply in real time. But market research is evolving too.

Here are five trends that will transform market research in 2015 and beyond.

1. On-demand market research will increasingly have a mobile-first focus. Market research methods are catching up with toady’s mobile-enabled audiences. Today analytics and usage data is being used to profile consumer behaviors. More proactive mobile methods are being leveraged to conduct “in the wild” surveys, using geo-fencing and consumer retail activities. This trend of leveraging the devices customers keep in their pockets as next-generation measurement instruments will continue to grow.

2. Data collection will become a more natural experience for target audiences. Surveys still have a long life ahead of them, yet soon we will start to see more nuanced approaches. First, this year we will see the “in depth interview” methodology begin to grow. Now this approach of directly connecting to consumers won’t be conducted in the traditional face to face approach. Instead, we will see video interviews being automatically conducted by the devices consumers already own: smartphones, tablets, PCs, Smart TVs. Audiences will not be filling out a 30 question surveys, they will simply speak their thoughts directly to their devices while being recorded. This leads to more direct and unbiased data, as consumers are in a more natural, at ease state of mind. The future will be about verbalizing thoughts versus bubble filling.

3. New types of data will begin to mature and spread.

With the growth of more natural data collection, technologies that have been incubating for the last decade will begin to mature and have greater applications. Technologies such as facial expression recognition, crowd sourced analysis, voice tonal sentiment analysis, natural language processing, even video heartbeat measure for emotional responses through analyzing flushing of the skin. The value of these technologies is analogous to model of conducting surveys. Instead of using bubble filling to quantify consumer thoughts and feelings, these technologies can passively measure consumer reactions and output structured data similar to survey results. The richness of market and consumer research data will become even deeper and more nuanced.

4. Traditional research services will be evolving into platform solutions. Much of how the market research industry operates today is built on the agency model. A team of smart professionals will design a custom project to be executed for a company’s specific needs. Much of the data collection is still done manually and nearly all the analysis is done manually. In 2015 and beyond we will start to see this change. With the increase in speed and richness of data, we will see new software platforms emerge to automate manual activities. We will see big data solutions providing insights into the measured impact of advertisement creative pre-launch of a campaign, and measurements of frustration and poor experiences for customers in ecommerce. This will lead to shift in where services teams focus. Those smart professionals will leverage on demand big data sets that have been fully processed and loaded into online analytics platforms. With this automated analysis professionals will focus more on planning backed by data-driven insights and less on executing in person research. Instead of finding problems, market research professionals will be suggesting solutions.

5. Market Research will become more than strategic, it will be tactical. Businesses have evolved rapidly over the past few decades to accommodate the new opportunities and challenges of the Information Age. Market research is undergoing an evolution of its own, and new platforms and technologies are allowing marketers to reinvent the traditional approach and accelerate improvements in products, services, online and mobile experiences as well as marketing campaigns. With more data streams, better data integration and faster analytics, modern market research is a tactical weapon rather than just a strategic asset; it now moves at warp speed instead of at a Pony Express pace. Make a difference every day versus each quarter.

With tools like remote research, behavior recognition, live surveys and user experience analytics, this is a new Golden Age in market research – and it presents an incredible opportunity for businesses that integrate these tools into their operations. As data analytics grew in popularity, companies were able to more quickly and accurately identify what was happening on the ground with customers. In 2015 and beyond, new market research solutions will be informing businesses about not only what customers do, but why customers do what they do. That’s a game-changer.