A recent article from the American Marketing Association pinpointed nine trends in market research to look out for in 2018. The overall feedback from fellow researchers and marketers were mixed - a bit of excitement and fear of the unknown. How is this going to affect the work we do today? Are we going to see similar changes that hit our industry during the recession in the mid to late 2000s? As someone who was a market research manager and lived through the recession that wiped out many market research organizations, including the one I worked at, I completely understand the fear. It is hard to trust technology when you feel like it is gunning for your job.
From my research and experience working with various customers, there are three specific trends that will revolutionize our industry:
1. Customer Experience (CX) Will Continue to Grow
With Amazon leading the way, more and more companies are giving customers a seat at the business table. I don’t see this changing anytime soon. Automation to deliver and gather feedback is incredibly popular, and a preset course of action allows organizations to handle experiences in the moment - far better than waiting for an email response weeks later. If you are an organization concerned about your customer’s experience and need better ways to be proactive, then it is time graduate from the standard survey for feedback and consider a CX solution. However, a solution is only as good as the team properly implementing it. CX solutions need smart folks with market research backgrounds to set up and drive results that are actionary in nature. This is your opportunity to specialize in this particular niche.
2. Predictive Analysis Will Soon Become the Preferred Way To Efficiently Deliver Results
Automation will affect the market research industry. There’s no doubt about it. People who need data to review will need it quickly and in a simpler format than what is traditionally offered.
Simple- Digestible - Actionable are three characteristics that predictive analysis must be in order to work. But who is going to be there to set this up and validate the results? This is the value that research analysts, data scientists, and market research managers can offer. The growth in popularity for predictive analysis is only going to make validation research more important in the future.
3. Artificial Intelligence and Learning - More Passive, Less Creepy
As you can see in the recent Facebook privacy scandal, learning about people has been and will always be extremely important for businesses to better target their messaging for products and services. AI and other learning tools are already smart enough to know what websites I visit and that they use my Instagram feed to continue advertising to me. A bit creepy if you ask me, but this is the world we are headed towards. Recommendations when online shopping and Netflix viewing habits all culminate into getting a relative idea of who you are without asking you any direct questions. As the world continues to demand customized experiences, organizations will continue to look for passive ways for businesses to interact with you through intelligent design and machine learning. The biggest area market researchers can influence the growth of AI and machine learning is setting best practices and standards for ethical data collection and storage. We are already seeing GDPR being enforced in the EU this coming May, and I believe this is going to eventually become a global issue that organizations like the American Marketing Association or Market Research Association could take on and be the voice of ethics when it comes to protecting every citizen's privacy.
After reading these, are you panicked or are you hopeful? For me, I’m hopeful because many of my colleagues and I were able to evolve and flourish after the last recession and technological overhaul in the market research industry. I strongly believe that will happen again, and I love the idea that market research has a future influencing much of the technology that will be implemented soon. There will always be a place for traditional market research methodologies, and who better than us to mix something old with something new? We all should be mindful and continue to grow and learn how to adapt with resiliency to the evolution of changing technology. Companies who are invested in new ways to gather insights will be even better off when you are able to embrace changes while adding your expertise to the mix.