The Top 20 Emerging Methods In Market Research – A GRIT Sneak Peek
Editor’s Note: The newest GRIT report is with the designers and will be published around October 20th! As usual. it’s just chock-full of amazing data and insights about the state of the industry that everyone is sure to find useful. Since it’s almost GRIT time, that also means sneak peeks into the findings, and today we have one of the sections that many readers look forward to the most: the adoption of new research methods analysis. This analysis was done by Ray Poynter and Jeffrey Henning based on data collected this summer.
Watch for more sneak peeks, as well as the full publication of GRIT Q1-Q2 2014, right here very soon!
By Ray Poynter & Jeffrey Henning
This section looks at the adoption, by clients and suppliers, of new research methods, and the barriers to adopting new approaches. In evaluating the current picture and changes from the previous year it should be noted that two new research methods have been added to the survey this year: Big Data Analytics and Micro-Surveys.
The data suggest that not much has changed over the last 12 months (with one big exception). The same four techniques head up the list, however, within the detail of the information there are some interesting insights, such as the way that clients seem to be adopting Social Media Analytics and Big Data Analytics more widely than MR suppliers are, and these nuances are explored in this section.
This section also looks at why approaches are not used. The data remind us that no approach is right for every situation, and that barriers can range from not understanding a new technology through to finding an older approach too slow and too expensive.
Respondents were shown a list of new (and newish) research approaches and asked to indicate which they were already using and which they were actively considering. Note, selecting ‘using’ does not mean a technique is necessarily being used heavily. This question provides an insight into what techniques are working their way into toolkits.
It’s official! Mobile surveys and market research online communities are no longer emerging techniques; both are used by a majority of researchers:
56% of respondents have used MROCs, up from 49% in the last survey 9 months ago
The growth in mobile has been even more dramatic, climbing to 64% usage, up from 41% in the last survey.
Judging by its momentum, social media analytics will be the next technique to cross over to the mainstream: usage jumped 10 points to 46%.
Client-side researchers are more likely to have used the following than supplier-side researchers: social media analytics (47% to 36%) and Big Data analytics (39% to 29%). These are areas where the traditional market research industry might be losing market share to external firms. What are suppliers more likely than clients to see as the future of the industry? Suppliers have used mobile surveys, mobile qual, mobile ethnography, webcam interviews, microsurveys, gamification, facial analysis, and virtual reality more often than clients have.
Techniques that were added to the survey for the first time, with reported client-side usage, are:
- Behavioral Economics models – 25%
- Internet of Things/Sensor-based data collection – 12%
- Wearables based research – 7%
We’ll set an alarm on our Apple Watch for a year from now to see how these techniques are doing.
The chart below shows the approaches in use and under consideration over the last three waves of GRIT.
The big news, but perhaps not surprising news, is that mobile surveys are now the top approach, with about two-thirds saying they are using them. This is a jump of around 50% from the previous waves. It is clear that 2014 is the year that mobile arrived in a big way.
In general, all the numbers are higher in the latest wave, compared with the earlier waves. Given that the approaches are selected because they are believed to be growing, this growth is not surprising. The numbers do not, however, reflect volumes of work.
The rest of the list (other than mobile surveys) can be broadly broken into three categories:
- under 20%,
- 20% to under 40%,
- 40% to under 60%.
Those techniques which are currently under 20% are clearly niche at the moment. In some cases this may be their long-term position, for others (such as wearables) it may simply reflect their newness.
The 20% to 40% group reflect approaches that are becoming established in toolkits amongst a range of companies, without yet being ‘mainstream’. This group ranges from gamification at 23% through to mobile qual at 37%. One of the interesting items in this group is Big Data analytics, which is one of the very few items that has not noticeably increased since the previous wave. Perhaps big data is proving difficult to integrate for most research companies, or hard to monetize?
The 40% to 60% group represent mainstream approaches that all researchers should be considering and many should be using. Text analytics and social media analytics have grown their scores well since the last wave. Online communities has been the top scorer in this category for a few years and has again grown the number who say they are using it. Communities have lost their top spot in the list due to the rapid growth in mobile surveys, not because their growth has plateaued.
Two phenomena jump out of when comparing in use vs. under consideration
- The range is narrow, from 21% considering biometric response to 38% considering big data analytics.
- A number of the scores for the most recent wave have fallen from the previous wave, e.g. mobile surveys fell from 41% considering to 26% considering.
The scores for the items at the top of the ‘In Use’ table have fallen in the consideration column because they are beginning to reach natural limits. For example, since 64% said they were using mobile surveys, the number saying they were ‘considering’ had to fall from 41%. The total of using and considering mobile surveys is now 90%. Presumably some of those not using or considering mobile surveys will be organisations that do not use surveys, e.g. some qualitative practices.
The two charts (in use and consideration) together confirm the importance of mobile (not just mobile surveys, but also techniques such as qual and ethnography). The tables also suggest that several approaches are, currently, firmly seen as niche, such as virtual reality and neuromarketing, since they are near the bottom of both the in use and considering tables.
After asking respondents to rate the list of key techniques and approaches, we asked “Are there any other emerging technologies or new research approaches we have not listed you are considering trying out?”
There were about 150 responses to this open-ended question. However, most of these verbatim comments related to items which were already included in the questionnaire, such as virtual reality, social media, biometrics, and big data. However, in many of these cases the wording used in the open-ended response was slightly different, for example “Biometrics” compared with the questionnaire which said “Biometric Response”, or “Social media listening” compared with the questionnaire which said “Social Media Analytics”.
Open-ended responses that were mentioned fairly often and which were not in the list provided by the questionnaire included:
- Geo/location issues, such as geofencing, location tracking, GPS etc.
- Working with text and images in ways other than text analytics and social media analytics, such as semiotics and discourse analysis.
- Variations on ‘mobile’, beyond just “mobile surveys”, “mobile ethnography” and “mobile qual”.
- A more generalised expression of passive and observational data and analysis.
- A variety of ‘neuro’ related approaches that people did not feel were captured by the term “Neuromarketing”, for example implicit association and voice analytics (which might also be biometrics).
In the next wave of GRIT we’ll continue to refine this overall section with answer options, and perhaps add some definitions in order to help reduce potential wording confusion.
These responses were not coded and added to the totals since it would not materially impact their relative rankings and would only marginally change the percentages. Overall this modified “other” response is a good way for us to “keep our ear to the ground” as it relates to new models emerging that we might not be paying sufficient attention to.