After an extraordinary two years of global pandemic and business disruption, it looks like we’re slowly entering a post-COVID era. So as we look ahead, what have we learnt about market research trends for 2022 after FieldworkHub’s most successful year yet? Here’s our take on what you need to consider when establishing your research strategy.
2021 was a year of change for the market research industry; government restrictions, rapidly changing consumer tastes, and a deepening trend to online research led to a dramatic increase in the volume of customer engagements at FieldworkHub. As a result, 2021 was our best year since founding the company three years ago; we grew our client base, onboarding over 30 new accounts, and the number of engagements increased by over 50% vs 2020.
In 2021 our clients wanted to find out more about their customers; faster and more frequently. The use of innovative online tools enabled FieldworkHub to deliver industry-leading market research for our clients that gave them access to high impact data that empowered them to make the right strategic decisions in a rapidly changing world.
Out of more than 250 engagements that we delivered in 2021, we executed just two large scale in-person market research studies.
The first was a 140-person taste test for a drinks industry client who wanted to understand how their product stacked up against the competition.
The second was a usability study for a leading global medical device manufacturer, which investigated the extent to which first-time users of a soon-to-launch wearable found the device to be easy and intuitive to operate.
In-person fieldwork remains the most valuable form of market research; in the future, in-person market research will be conducted when the benefits outweigh the relatively high investments required to perform this type of study.
Having spent nearly two years conducting research remotely because of COVID, FieldworkHub does not expect to see a rapid shift back to in-person market research in 2022 but if conditions permit, we expect to see more face-to-face product trials and taste-tests being conducted over the course of 2022.
Every business management team has inflation at the top of the agenda. The dramatic improvement in market research technologies has enabled the market research industry to deliver better results for clients, faster and more cost-effectively than ever before.
For those with larger budgets like corporations, SMBs and government institutions, successful market research studies are delivering dramatically more ROI than before, reaching more people, getting better in-depth results, and over more prolonged periods; these advances have also enabled greater accessibility to global market research studies. Meanwhile, for those with smaller budgets, we’re able to do more with tighter budgets.
At FieldworkHub, our ‘à la carte’ approach means that we can accommodate most requests.
2021 was also a year of firsts at FieldworkHub.
Our team delivered a virtual focus group world tour for an ed-tech scale-up, asking senior teachers across Australia, Germany, Spain, Indonesia, India, South Korea, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, providing insights into usability and helping them to improve their messaging.
We also helped a mining company understand consumer sentiment for lab-made diamonds; we recruited 16 highly relevant participants and conducted in-depth 60-minute interviews across the UK, France, Germany, and Italy.
We interviewed industrial buyers of recycled plastics in the Middle East, Indonesia and Vietnam in response to the recent ban on imported recycled plastics from China.
We also delivered video interviews about high-end winter coats - in June!
In 2020, especially in the first few months of COVID, there was uncertainty in the markets; as a result, clients were reluctant to commission market research because week-by-week sentiment changed so rapidly.
Since then, the pandemic has created an information vacuum between what customers want and what brands and companies think customers need.
Fast forward to 2021, we've grown back to pre-pandemic levels. In 2022, FieldworkHub and the wider industry will see steady growth.
From a business perspective, Covid has been an excellent time for companies that make technology to help clients gather insights remotely, e.g. online survey platforms, video survey platforms, social media and social listening analytics companies.
Perhaps paradoxically, it hasn't been perfect for companies that provide the software and associated services to run remote focus groups.
The cost of running a focus group online using one of these platforms is not a lot lower than hiring a physical viewing facility. However, through the COVID period, people have become adept at using free/low-cost video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Teams and Google Meet, and clients have realised that these work perfectly well for most types of focus groups and not only are they much cheaper, but they are also in some ways better because the participants already trust and know how to use these platforms.
We hope that by the end of 2022, we’ll be entering a post-COVID era, but the legacy of COVID on the market research sector is here to stay.
The shift to online research was a trend that was already on the move before the pandemic; COVID accelerated this by about five years compared to what would have occurred naturally.
The pandemic has increased investment in online research tools; the power of these tools and the introduction of machine learning and big data gives agencies and their clients mission-critical insights they need to make strategic decisions.
For businesses, there is an urgency to understanding the needs and desires of customers to create compelling products and services that satisfy them – helping them stay relevant in rapidly moving markets.
If you’re looking for a market research partner to get ahead in 2022, then book a free consultation by emailing [email protected] or give us a call on +44 20 7458 4950.