Market research is a continually evolving sector that has helped brands, organizations, individual researchers, and academicians stay above the curve. In a global economy that took a significant hit in 2020, research functions only grew. If anything, focusing on conducting smarter, efficient, and impactful research has been on the rise.
No longer has research stayed primitive with long boring surveys sent to thousands of respondents hoping for a response. Market research has evolved because the importance of insightful data is now evident to everyone. From transactional data to customer data, position metrics to consumer research, and opinion research to academic research, differentiating between the right data and noise has become extremely important. Therefore, conducting smarter research is now the need of the hour.
In a mostly open-ended ecosystem, it is tough to get consensus. Still, surprisingly enough, most researchers, brands, and facilitators of research agree on research trends to keep an eye out for in 2021 and beyond.
We have listed the research trends that we think will be the most defining factors for the global market research market in 2021 and beyond.
Top market research trends to keep an eye out for in 2021
Data can be construed differently by different people. What’s unchallengeable is that there is a now a technological advancement to collecting and analyzing data. Social media plays a vital role in gathering sentiments; there is an advancement in psychological, economic, and scientific knowledge in data collection. These factors have led to market research evolution, and 2021 will see a marked shift in collecting transactional data.
In no particular order, you should keep an eye out for these research trends in 2021 and beyond to fortify your decision-making ability.
Smarter, shorter surveys
This trend gets talked about a lot, but the truth is that most researchers and research tools do not allow the ability to conduct smarter surveys. However, at the turn of 2020 and beyond, it is becoming increasingly important to collect the right data with good survey response rates and honest feedback. Capturing transactional data at the point of experience with a smart, short, and efficient survey helps with better data collection and insights. Negating the use of demographic data collection when that information is already available and using smarter research questions at the point of experience will help to reduce survey fatigue and collect data that matters.
For example, to collect choice-based data that is a cornerstone of most research projects, using a simple addition of an anchored MaxDiff question in your choice-based scaling will allow you to get deeper insights without having to conduct multiple follow-up studies. Similarly, the ability to deploy omnichannel surveys at various touchpoints helps you collect the correct transactional data without compromising data quality.
DIY in-house research
For a long time, research has been considered a complex and labor-intensive process requiring extreme special qualifications to get right. In 2021, there will be a marked shift towards DIY in-house research with smarter research tools. Simple to understand and deploy platforms without the need for complex scripting and powerful research questions is the way forward.
The ability to collect quantitative data and qualitative data with the bonus of having a good respondent base in one location is the way forward for market research. Gone are the days where each component required going to different platforms. This will make the management of market research easier for all the stakeholders. DIY research, along with do-it-together (DIT) research where the research tool provider chips with specialized research services to let you focus on insights collection, is the way forward.
One of the biggest market research trends going into 2021 and beyond will be longitudinal research and tracking. For far too long has research relied on broken down respondent sets that do not help gather a macro-level view of data and insights. With the help of community management platforms, longitudinal research helps track behavior changes and derive trends in between external and internal factors on research and insights.
Not just that, longitudinal tracking also helps with quicker and faster turnaround research from members that matter the most to you and insights that you can trust and co-create with. Having a ready set of opt-in research-ready respondents can help with ongoing monitoring studies and expedite your experience transformation initiatives.
Online qualitative research
One market research trend that has been a definite by-product impact of COVID-19 is online qualitative research. With limitations on in-person focus groups and other qualitative research methods, the only option is to migrate this model online for continued tracking. But now that online focus groups are making an in-road in research models for research managers globally, there is a definite shift in understanding its value and importance. From using the right tool to manage data collection to gamification and digital rewards, there are multiple benefits of moving your offline focus groups, online.
The ability to moderate video discussions while collecting data from a diverse audience limited by geographical boundaries is a huge bonus.
Quality data collection
In a recent live video I did with the VP of Products at QuestionPro, Anup Surendran, we spoke about how hyper-personalization will help with better quality data and insights. Going into 2021 and beyond, with the increase in the number of surveys that a person is expected to respond to, standing out and collecting quality data will be a challenge. Personalizing data collection at the point of experience with intercept studies and smarter shorter surveys helps with data collection.
High-quality survey data reduces the time to market and aids insights management at costs that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Putting together studies that aid with high-frequency research and non-intrusive hyper-personalization will see higher levels of success going into 2021 and beyond.
Heading to a meeting and want some quick insights? Cannot choose between two names for a new product line and want quick responses? Who wouldn’t like immediate insights from a group of respondents when you are stuck somewhere! In 2021, there will be a marked shift towards high cadence, high-frequency studies where the turnaround times are very high. Small surveys or polls that are set up and deployed within minutes and answers and analysis within minutes is the future of market research. Using a smart product that allows you to tap into a pre-defined and mobile-ready respondent population, the scope for quick turnaround studies is very high.
Using your existing technology stack and internal communication tools and CRM, if you could create and push out studies that offer you responses representing a larger population, the use cases are limitless. We at QuestionPro are building a mechanism that provides you quick turnaround response times short studies using our proprietary global panel of respondents to help you go from perceptions to decisions within minutes.
Non-intrusive transactional studies
The biggest pet peeve of people not wanting to participate in research studies and respond to surveys is the multitude of pointless questions and a high number of such surveys. But what if you could gather customer delight with a customer experience platform that leverages non-intrusive transactional studies that are highly engaging, short, and compelling to respond to? Going into 2021, there will be a marked shift towards smarter customer engagement and monitoring studies that do not require respondents to fill in pointless surveys that include demographic data and repetitive information and can help manage customer satisfaction and legitimate NPS scores.
With the help of smart intercept studies, scores from across various touch-points help draw a better understanding of customer delight and help show vectors and factors that could lead to customer churn.
One of the biggest trends in market research that I am most excited about is the added use of technology to capture respondent behavior and data with various factors like facial recognition and contactless surveys. Surveys that help you capture insights where respondents do not have to interact with an external device and sentiments directly are captured just by facial and visual cues will be extremely important, going into 2021 and beyond. A simple question, for example, at point of experience where facial recognition captures respondent sentiments will go a long way in offering mature insights for brands.
Crowdsourcing in market research helps solve problems at scale with lower costs and makes it to our top 11 market research trends to keep an eye out for 2021. Since crowdsourcing uses the quali-quant method, the insights you can get from a diverse audience base are tremendous. Not only can it help solve problems, but it also helps to get an idea of a more extensive and more varied population. The only drawback of this method is that for a brand to effectively leverage this model, there has to be an advantage of scale, which increases crowdsourcing’s success and feasibility.
Due to a large social media footprint, it is becoming increasingly important to listen to social media’s happening and derive sentiments from conversations. Since social media is highly emotive, there is a broader scope to get to the root of ideas, complaints, purchase behavior, macro and micro trends, etc. Using social listening, you can isolate the data you care about and keep an eye out for short-term indicators around consumer research. This is the future of ethnographic research. While social listening doesn’t make sense for all researchers and brands, if done well, it can help to identify actionable vectors at a very early stage.
AI-assisted data collection
Two common themes arose from market research in 2020 – personalization and convenience. Using AI-assisted data collection helps in advancing research for brands and researchers. The right data going to the right stakeholders in real-time define the success metrics of market research. By limiting human interactions but increasing on milestones and point of experience-based smart research, there is a greater success of collecting the right data. This helps in focusing on deriving insights from the data and not on the data collection itself.
For long-form data and open-ended data, AI-based research and sentiment analysis help derive insights from text-based data without intervening and manually interpreting it.
2021 will be a huge year for market research, and we are excited to play a pivotal role in making research easy and accessible to everyone. What are the market research trends you are looking forward to and are keeping an eye out to go into 2021 and beyond?