Three Ways Technology is Transforming Market Research in 2021

By Dr. Thomas Fandrich, Co-Founder of quantilope

Consumers by nature, are adaptive. When trends change, they switch the brands and styles they wear. When new technologies are released, some resist at first before recognizing a life that can be a little easier, a little better, and they adopt new innovations.

And even in the most difficult times, when routines are completely shook – they pause – and then they adjust their spending habits, consumption patterns, and how they interact with those brands and services that best fulfill their new needs and motivations.

This is, at its core, the complexity of consumer behavior. Never before have there been so many new products, services, and business models vying for consumers’ attention and dollars, alongside new distribution methods and a wildly unpredictable year of events (global pandemics, elections, racial injustice, etc.). All of which are radically altering what consumers want, need, how they shop, and what they shop for.

However, brands can leverage a single solution to build and maintain a competitive advantage during an era of rapid consumer shifts and a crowded market place: on-going, high-quality consumer insights.

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Until recently, market research has been viewed as a relatively un-sexy field: long surveys and excel files, weeks of data collection and analysis, and lack luster visualizations. The Achilles heel of market research has been, and often remains, the length of time between when a brand starts a project and when they receive actionable insights. Or, on the other foot, brands leveraging quick and dirty survey solutions that lack the robust types of data analysis that ensure credible and reliable insights to use as a basis for their business decisions.

Fortunately, advances in technology have created an attractive new toolkit for brands to transform their market research process, enabling them to stay constantly connected to the pulse of their consumers, and to take immediate action from insights for furthered business growth. Here’s how:

  1. Speed & Quality

Automation makes it possible to connect each stage of the market research process (the questionnaire design, professional panel management, in-depth analysis, data visualization, and the story telling of the results) in a single, end-to-end platform creating a one-stop shop for all things research. Rather than coordinating between various point solutions and multiple teams, end-to-end platforms take the guesswork out of project timelines and give the power back to the researcher by housing all tasks under the same roof.

From the moment of a study’s inception within an automated research platform, brands can begin dragging & dropping questions and advanced research methods (such as MaxDiff and Implicit) into their survey. Once the survey is ready, brands have the ability to launch, monitor, and pause fieldwork as they need, and begin generating charts before the study is even complete. Since fielding and analyzing are connected, charts automatically update as fielding progresses, and brands can easily switch between an array of chart options to see which reflects the most impactful story with final data.

And suddenly, just like that, brands can bring their consumers into the boardroom with them for informed decision making through high-quality, current (and on-going) consumer insights.

Brands can now complete research projects in just days compared to weeks/months of traditional processes and, through automation, have direct, quick access to the advanced research methodologies that used to take high-levels of in-house expertise, budget, and resources.

  1. Collaboration 

With technology, version control issues are a thing of the past in market research. In housing a survey directly within a tech-driven platform, there are no Word documents being passed back and forth between team members and getting lost in the shuffle. Teams have the ability to keep project briefs and collateral stored conveniently in the platform and comment to each other directly to share edits or brainstorm new ideas. Here, there is a single source of truth for research projects, eliminating inconsistencies throughout the process.

With multiple team members able to iterate on a project at once, survey setups and chart analyses are completed faster, leading to better results and even shorter turnaround times to gather results. These results are shared through interactive dashboards, which provide a space for brands to collaborate on which findings craft the most insightful story, and are ready to share out with other team members and key stakeholders to support organization-wide knowledge sharing.

  1. Flexibility

In the research world, not everything goes according to plan. Yet, technology driven, advanced platforms equip brands with flexibility to quickly adapt to obstacles. For example, if a particular panel is moving at a slow pace, brands have the flexibility and control to switch providers with essentially the click of a button. Once out of field, end-to-end platforms make it easy to run many cuts of data of different audiences to uncover the top insights. Changes can be made last minute, or even after a dashboard is complete by updating charts or statistical testing with a few easy clicks.

Keeping the survey, panel, and data all under one roof allows brands to continuously keep their insights relevant for stakeholders, should there be differing end goals of how to use the data.

Okay, does Speed & Quality, Collaboration, and Flexibility really make market research sexy? To data-analytic nerds like me – absolutely! To the average folk…maybe not.

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But advances in technology signal an opportunity for the MRX industry. We (brands, insights managers, and the entire insights community) are now armed with adequate tools to make consumer research become a competitive advantage. Winners of tomorrow will be those who leverage technology to unlock high-quality, on-going consumer insights that get at the core of consumer behavior and keep a constant pulse on their customers. Brands must view insights as a resource to support organization-wide consumer knowledge, rethink possibilities for growth, and ignite innovations. Technology has created a fundamental shift in how brands can do research better, faster, and more efficiently to stay ahead of rapid shifts rather than attempting to catch up. In a world where consumer trends are anything but stagnant, traditional ways of market research simply won’t be able to meet demands without adopting reliable, technological solutions to automate tedious processes.

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