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There are at least three major ways in which the market research/consumer insights industry is changing, and the combination of all three is having major implications on how work within the industry is conceptualised, performed and delivered. With advances in insights technology and tools (such as automation and the use of artificial intelligence), the rise of DIY methods, and more agile processes, market research work is not what it once used to be. Familiarise yourself with these trends to understand what it means to be a consumer, buyer or supplier of market research in 2021.

1. Advances in insights technology and tools

The move to online research necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic has given greater prominence to tech-driven research methodologies, many of which allow researchers to gather qualitative insights from a wider sample of participants in real time and at lower cost than most in-person alternatives. For example:

2. The rise of DIY methods

In-house researchers are leaning more heavily on DIY methods, i.e. research that they can run themselves without outside help, as this enables them to be more self-reliant and work in ways that are faster, more agile and more cost effective. This is particularly true for companies that sell to consumers, since they can now leverage social media and online communication channels to gain insights not just from their existing customer base, but also past or potential future customers as well, using techniques such as market research online communities, social media analytics, templated surveys and ad hoc polls. 

3. More agile processes

The move online is shortening project lifecycles, particularly for qualitative research. Project timelines for research involving focus groups and depth interviews are no longer constrained by the need to book a viewing facility weeks in advance, while months of lockdown have left many potential respondents with extra time on their hands, making it easier to recruit them at short notice. These factors, combined with the new technologies and tools and DIY methods, are enabling researchers to iterate their approach as they proceed, pick up more quickly on emerging trends, and generally take a much more flexible approach to market research than in the past.

Implications for research customers and suppliers

The increased focus on technology to supplement or replace traditional market research techniques means that in the future research customers and suppliers will need to have strong information technology skills, with a good understanding of the latest products and tools available to them and a willingness to continue learning about new technology throughout their careers.

As organisations which commission market research become more connected and data-driven, it seems likely that they will want to base their decisions on insights and knowledge gathered by multiple teams or departments - making a case using market data will probably become a shared responsibility, rather than the job of a dedicated research and insights department. The fact that staff with less knowledge of traditional market research are now spearheading research initiatives further substantiates the need for agile DIY methods.  

To remain competitive, research agencies will need to play a more facilitative role when interacting with their clients, helping them to understand how to make the most of the data that their organisation already possesses, advising on the most appropriate techniques for DIY and externally managed research, and turning projects round more quickly to fit in with the increased need for speed and flexibility. 

At FieldworkHub, we pride ourselves on our ability to work in a nimble and agile way while offering expert advice to our clients. We’re here to support your research needs however they may change in the years to come! Feel free to reach out with any questions related to trends within the industry and how we may help you evolve with them. 

*It should be noted that the Chatbot and Mobile Ethnography as an approach to research are not a one-size-fits-all approach and cannot serve as an alternative for every other research methodology.

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