By Alan Mavretish, Senior Director Research Solutions
The Q3/Q4 version of the GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) report is out, and the insights highlight a massive transformation that is taking place in the market research industry today. Seismic shifts in the research landscape are impacting everything from how mobile research is conducted to the skills that companies are looking for when recruiting insights professionals. In the survey, a full 77 percent of research providers and clients felt that some or all of their business needed to be changed in order to remain competitive. Here is a closer look at the key insights professionals should be aware of from the report results—and how applying them to your own business can help you thrive in the year ahead.
An Increased Focus on Qualitative Insights
While quantitative insights still play a part in the market research process, the GRIT report results revealed that market research initiatives are increasingly leaning in the direction of qualitative. A lean 10 percent of those researchers interviewed were implementing purely quantitative projects. Just over twice that were focused on strictly qualitative research (21%), with the vast majority at 69 percent blending qualitative and quantitative insights together. The popularity of qualitative approaches reflects the degree of personalization, authenticity and deep customization that brands need to bring to the table. Qualitative research helps develop a more nuanced understanding of consumer preferences and provides critical insights around how to implement that (e.g. language choices for marketing campaigns).
Opportunities for Improvement in Panel Management
Some of the standout bits of data that panel operators should take note of concern agency and client satisfaction levels. While panels play a critical role in the market research process, only 40 percent of those surveyed were very or completely satisfied with their panel providers. The top three most important factors that influenced satisfaction included respondent quality, customer service and quantity of respondents. Today’s market is demanding well-managed panels that use a variety of mechanisms, including engagement strategies, third party vetting tools and proactive management to help ensure data quality.
Mobile Market Research Hasn’t Been Mastered
A surprising finding from the survey was that mobile market research hasn’t been mastered. Despite widespread recognition that mobile is the future of research, companies are still working to catch up. A full 50 percent of surveys that are sent out are not optimized for mobile. There was also dissension among respondents on what comprised the ideal survey length: roughly equal groups suggested that the ideal length for a mobile survey was under 10 minutes, between 11 and 16 minutes or 16+ minutes. An increasing trend in the next year will focus on ensuring that the majority of surveys are mobile friendly. More research also needs to be done to establish clearer, data-supported mobile market research best practices that will help both brands and agencies reap more engagement and better data quality.
The Rates of Technology Adoption
New technologies and research approaches launch on a regular basis. The survey revealed interesting trends in how technologies are being adopted among both insights suppliers and their clients. Slightly higher rates of adoption in most categories by suppliers suggest that awareness levels of new technologies may be higher among insights professionals. At the same time, certain areas such as social media analytics quickly reveal which types of analytics are easier for companies to deploy internally versus those that require expert or agency assistance. For example, 72 percent of suppliers and 54 percent of clients have embraced mobile surveys. Yet many types of much-discussed technologies are showing lower adoption rates than one might expect: Internet of Things (IOT) devices (8% suppliers, 10% clients) and wearables research (9% suppliers, 5% wearables).
The Most In-Demand Skills
When seeking to understand what companies value when hiring insights professionals, the power of data and visualization quickly becomes clear. The two most in-demand skillsets are Designers/Data Visualization Experts (68%) and Data Scientists (58%). Companies also continue to see demand for Social Media Experts, and Marketing/Business Strategists also make the list. Companies are working hard to find ways to translate insights into content that communicates effectively with clients and the market.
The GRIT report has an overtone of change, as companies work to find their way in a fast-changing research ecosystem. From the adoption of new technologies to the need for different skillsets, the industry remains in motion. For brands and agencies alike, 2016 promises to be a year of growth and exciting new developments.