Innovative market research techniques | 2020 update

Innovative Market Research Techniques

While staple market research techniques, including focus groups and competitor analysis, are still relevant to some extent, 2020 looks set to shake the market research industry up as much as it does any other field. Only by keeping on top of the latest trends do market researchers stand any chance at retaining innovation and, ultimately, making sure that products and services forever meet the needs of clients and consumers. 

Most notably, in recent years, market research techniques that were once considered unconventional have become routine, and even necessary for companies looking to enjoy results. Take, for instance, the fact that 33% of researchers now conduct less market research face-to-face than they did a mere three years ago.

This is just one piece of evidence that points towards an undeniable and overarching fact: innovation in market research techniques is now necessary, not optional. But what types of market research live up to this new and improved focus?


# 1 – Biometric measurement

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While market research once solely relied on verbal participation, many researchers are finding that pairing this with biometric measurements makes for far more reliable, comprehensive findings. In fact, considering biometric factors such as tone of voice and eye movements leads to insights that simply never would have been possible in the past.

Campbell’s Soup displayed biometric benefits perfectly during their efforts to understand in-store purchase behaviour better. During interviews with 1,500 subjects, they conducted a range of neurological tests to further contextualise based on the 75-95% of brain processing that takes place below conscious levels. The end product of this extensive market research focus was a rebrand of the iconic Campbell’s logo with neuromarketing at its heart. While the approach was met with immediate scepticism, there’s no denying that the new logo has made soup shopping easier than ever before for the brand’s target market, a goal which arguably wouldn’t have been possible without such deep-diving research.


# 2 – Virtual reality

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Virtual reality has been on everyone’s radar since big-name brands such as PlayStation and Oculus took the helm. Now, brands like Alibaba are utilising this tech for market research, and enjoying significant results from doing so. By providing users with a 360 VR setup of China’s largest supermarket, Alibaba market researchers were recently able to see, like never before, where consumers looked, which products they picked, and generally how they interacted with their surroundings. 

This is groundbreaking considering that 70% of consumer decisions have previously been out of research’s reach. By implementing VR techniques at the market research stage, brands can test everything from customer service scenarios and beyond, all with much greater accuracy variables than traditional concept testing could ever achieve.


# 3 – Gamification and surveys

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Surveys have been a primary market research method for more years than we care to count at this stage, and they’re undeniably invaluable for broad scale information gathering. Still, with every company now offering online surveys, getting consumers to interact is harder than ever. That’s where gamification comes in. 

By adding a sense of accomplishment, fun, and reward, gamification survey techniques like Teleflora’s points for action social engagement scheme have the power to increase both interactions and sales by as much as 92%. Options like money-off or other such incentives could undoubtedly see you collecting more information than ever before. Even better, you can use your efforts here to increase consumer satisfaction and offer rewards that boost your retention efforts as a bonus.

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# 4 – IoT and geolocation

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While self-reporting was once the prime way to reach and understand a target audience, observational research and its lack of bias are fast coming to the fore as a top market trend, and that’s become evident in the use of IoT and geolocation. Connected machines like the mobiles we all carry with us now provide invaluable qualitative data about a product service or group of people, all with geolocation abilities for an increased understanding of buyer habits. Even better, the fact that most people are already using devices like these means that this focus can cost far less than many previous market research capabilities. 

There are countless examples of this research method in action right now, including real estate agents like JLL, who are currently using connected assets such as lighting and chairs to understand how tenants use and interact with their spaces. This, in turn, can lead to the firm exploring informed and improved management processes moving forward, a benefit that any brand could enjoy from similar approaches.


# 5 – Online collaboration tools

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Online capabilities have played the largest part in changing every industry process, and market research is no exception. By utilising online collaboration tools such as Skype, brands are better able than ever to conduct cost-effective focus groups across representative market segments. Without having to worry about participant transport or geographical restrictions, companies can use this method to gain a comprehensive idea of how their services and products are perceived elsewhere, all without leaving the office.

This method is becoming especially prevalent in the age of the survey site, and brands like Inspired Opinions offer fantastic opportunities for participants looking to join online studies. Brands who build their own legitimate email lists of new or existing customers can also take care of this in-house to further reduce costs, and gather information regarding their unique target audience. 


# 6 – Video content analysis

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Whether conducting focus groups online or in person, the ability to analyse, transcribe, and understand findings is crucial. This is something that companies have attempted to achieve by filming such studies for a fair few years now but, despite the best efforts of many brands, it’s not unusual for specific focus group findings to remain unnoticed. Luckily, that’s a fate companies no longer need to battle thanks to video content analysis. 

Focus group filming in itself allows for repeated viewing and much better reading of reactions, outcomes, etc. But, as filming in this field grows by around 35%, companies are left with a great deal of content to scroll through. This is where analysis tools come into their own. Now, companies can cut research time in half by turning to transcription services instead of listening to video content themselves. Equally, object detection tools like intelligent recognition make it easier than ever before to skip forwards and backwards according to the metadata a brand needs to reach satisfactory focus group conclusions.


# 7 – Social media mining and content analysis

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In an age where users send around 347.222 tweets every 60 seconds, it’s hardly surprising that social media mining and content analysis have also won their place on this list. From social media platforms alone, companies have access to more extensive customer data than ever. What’s more, mining social media analytics can reveal not just how consumers are shopping, but also how they interact with content on a broader scale. When approached with clear focuses in mind, this can prove invaluable for consumer-led improvements on marketing reach across the board.

Take, for instance, efforts currently in the pipe-line from brands like Chick-Fil-A. This fast-food giant currently uses Amazon Web Services Comprehend to analyse social content that reveals food safety issues. And, this isn’t the only API making such research focuses possible. IBM also offers users an out-of-the-box natural language processing API in their cloud-based Watson, which aims to make it easier than ever for brands to search advanced text analytics across social platforms and beyond during the research stage. 


# 8 – Mass Qual and Data storytelling — moving from data to context

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Previously, market research has primarily relied on quantitative data that centres around numerical approaches such as statistics to quantify consumer opinions. Now, though, as data poses its own challenges to the market research industry, many companies are realising the value of qualitative data market research that relies more on personal insights and provides unrivalled context to results. This also includes data storytelling, which is allowing for even easier data mining that can be tailored to specific audiences. 

This has led to the emergence of the mass qual trend, which aims to merge these primary and secondary data formats into one easy-reach package. This mass qual approach means researchers can support their survey results and statistics with consumer quotes, opinions, and inputs. These add something of a storytelling element, which can work wonders for increasing context and moving away from the data that’s been threatening to drown brands until now. 

What’s more, utilising the capabilities on offer means that this mega-trend needn’t increase workloads in the slightest. For instance, analytics APIs take the work out of quantitative findings, while additions such as transcription services and facial recognition allow for that all-important consumer insight in less time. 

As companies attempt to stay afloat despite significant data influxes and changing consumer focuses, market research has certainly changed as we know it. Yet, by focusing on simplification and integration at every stage, research methods can continue to provide invaluable insight with ease, and may even flourish as storytelling continues to come to the fore.


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