4 ways technology impacts market research
Since the introduction of the iPhone, technology has moved at a breakneck pace. Whilst some traditional methods still work in contextualising data — such as getting transcriptions — much of the market research sphere is in flux. We see new roles rising while old ones disappear. Focus groups are becoming digital, real time data is becoming integral and advanced analytics are developing.
As the trend continues to work towards understanding data and market research, you may want to learn more about this in our report about the impact of new data on changing market research methods. Continue reading this article to find out how technology is impacting market research and the tools you can use to make the most of it.
#1 – An improved way to collect data
Market research was, until 10+ years ago, limited to relatively manual methods. But now we see that much of the data gathering can be done online. Technology has enabled groups of like-minded people from around the world to form online communities. This makes it a prime target for data collection.
Online surveys have opened the doors to quick and mobile data collection. More recently, we’ve seen the rise of passive data collection through smartphones. This has created thousands of data points per person and allows for companies to exploit targeted marketing through cookies, whilst market researchers can observe shopping trends without the need to ask groups of consumers about their habits.
Real-time data collection, through technology such as smart phone video apps has created massive amounts of data, which when transcribed promptly, can reveal insightful analysis that allows businesses to act more quickly than ever before.
#2 – New research roles are being created
With every new technology comes a whole new set of skills that are needed to take full advantage of it. As such, the research sector is growing faster than ever with new roles emerging all the time.
In schools, children are growing up surrounded by new technology. Computers, the internet and smartphones have become so integral to life, and to market research, that younger professionals are required to keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape.
New roles are being created to ensure that social media data and self-made video is being collated and analysed correctly. Rather than viewing millions of hours of content themselves, some larger brands and agencies are outsourcing this to transcription services that specialise in the transcription and collation of this data. These outsourced companies are usually industry-specific and can generate searchable and indexable catalogues to help aid the swift analysis of this data.
#3 – Social media: a new platform for information
Social media is a great tool for market researchers. Users go to social media every day to source reviews, information, news and working friendships. It is a goldmine for market information.
Google+, Facebook and Twitter are transforming in more ways than just volume. For example, there is easy market segmentation as online communities form themselves around products or services. Data is transmitted in real-time, no longer requiring lengthy paper-based sessions. Multiple data points are formed through interactions and passive data gathering. Twitter users may link to their favourite blogs when discussing brand’s products, revealing pertinent insights into what online communities are influencing buyers decisions.
Through social media, brands have been able to build customer relationships and enhance the data collection of customers beyond that, which could be achieved through traditional means. The data revealed is also often more honest; where post-purchase feedback surveys prompt considered polished responses, posts between friends online are far less self-conscious. This new ability to eavesdrop on consumers, is sensitive work and requires a nuanced toolkit to be effective, which is why social media professionals are becoming invaluable to market researchers. When reported properly, such unfiltered feedback can inform marketing strategies, product launches and the creation of new products as well.
Not only that but observing natural exchanges and conversations on social media is cheaper than orchestrating such conversations using traditional recruitment/fieldwork agencies and in-person groups and interviews where participants are incentivised to attend.
#4 – Analysing and making sense of your data
As technology progresses, data gets bigger — which can be great to form a bigger story. More data means more information about your customers. It means you can start to more accurately predict how your marketing strategy will progress. But there is no point in having all this data if you can’t utilise it and understand it.
Contextualising and analysing the data you collect is becoming the biggest challenge of market research. This is where advanced analytics comes in.
Advanced analytics uses machine learning and AI to go through large data sets and produce meaningful reports. Pattern matching, simulations and semiotic analysis are all features of advanced analytics. Having AI-driven programmes such as Tableau and Google Analytics have made it easier to sort through the data that companies have collected and create workable solutions.
However, the biggest issue with AI is context. Experienced market researchers can see that there are gaps in the readily available data. Qualitative analysis, beyond the most straightforward sentiment analysis and word clouds, is still far beyond the reach of algorithms and qualitative researchers, behavioural economists and even anthropologists with years of experience remain unrivalled by technology in untangling complex conscious and subconscious human behaviours.
But while human analysis of data is still vital,there are still tools to make this easier for brands. An important one is the accurate transcription of open responses to specific questions and wider conversations between consumers. Accelerating the journey to insight from hundreds of hours of audio, carefully abbreviated detailed notes transcripts condense a data set to the most rich and emotive content, saving weeks in reading time and fatigue. Some companies even provide an industry-specific transcription service, meaning that they can do some of the heavy lifting while you work on actionable plans.
Transcription services are only one tool in the broader spectrum of modern-day market research. Having a way to collect, analyse and produce results out of the large amounts of data that businesses now get can be hard. But once you find a way that suits your business, you can find that the results are worth the effort.