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2019 Predictions on the Future of Market Research

It has almost become a tradition for DigitalMR to offer predictions on the future of the customer insights industry in December or January each year.

Every respectable forecaster looks at past predictions and provides a self evaluation that is bound to add or subtract credibility from the current year’s predictions. Of course, we also have some new predictions.

Last year’s predictions revolved around two main traditional MR methods: surveys, and focus groups. Starting with surveys, they have made up a large portion of our industry for decades, but not for much longer. The growth of smartphone (and therefore internet) penetration around the world brings many changes to surveys, addressing inherent issues such as sampling methods - consumer panel members often only participate for the monetary incentive, and reliance on respondent memory - which is not to be trusted. The solution I had proposed back then, and which I still believe is the way to go, is short intercept surveys (SIS if you like acronyms). SIS are not only shorter and less likely to bore the participant out of their mind, but also take place at a time when the respondent is doing something relevant; a time when the information requested is fresh in respondents’ memories.

Moving on to focus groups, they have the potential to become much more efficient and easy to run, simply by moving from ‘physical’ to ‘online’. They can be part of a series of activities in an online community, enabling us to use a variety of methodologies to address the same questions and ultimately connect the dots to reach actionable insights for our clients.

While we’re on the subject, I will also address the 10 five-year predictions I made two years ago in January 2017, and make some new ones for the five years ahead.

  1. 2017-2022: The total spend on social listening and analytics from market research budgets will be US$ 9 Billion by 2020, up from US$ 2 Billion. 2019: We are on track to hit the 9 Billion by the end of 2020 and we are looking at 16 Billion by 2023.

  2. 2017-2022: Social media listening will be about integration with surveys and other data sources instead of a single customer insight source. 2019: We still stand by this.

  3. 2017-2022: Market research online communities will replace a lot of the “asking questions” part of market research, possibly 50% of all spend by 2020. 2019: A recent survey in the UK by the British Research Barometer has found online communities to be the star of all methodologies.

  4. 2017-2022: Listen-probe-listen-probe using a social listening platform in conjunction with online communities will become mainstream by 2020. 2019: A couple of online community platforms in addition to DigitalMR’s communities247 announced the integration of text analytics tools.

  5. 2017-2022: Micro surveys that will intercept customers while they perform a relevant action and ask about the experience will grow exponentially by 2020. 2019: This is part of the customer experience measurement offering already.

  6. 2017-2022: Traditional customer tracking surveys will become a lot shorter in the meantime, until they will at some point during the next 5 years be replaced by a combined approach of intercepts + social listening + online communities. 2019: We still think this will happen.

  7. 2017-2022: Artificial intelligence will become mainstream in analysing data for customer insights in the next 5 years. 2019: Definitely.

  8. 2017-2022: A lot of the market research solutions in existence will become available as DIY in the next 5 years. 2019: No doubt about that.

  9. 2017-2022: As a result of point 8 market research will be democratised as a service i.e. become affordable for SMEs. 2019: It would be very odd if this doesn’t happen.

  10. 2017-2022: I will chuck this last one in the category of “self-fulfilled prophecies”.  A very powerful notion that has to do more with the persistence and drive of the “prophet” to make something happen. By 2020 DigitalMR will become a global powerhouse in the market research industry or it will be acquired by a global multinational player who will emerge as a winner in the current consolidation wave. 2019: Hmmm, no comment.


Here are five new predictions:

  1. The next few years will bring a consolidation of social media listening tools
     
  2. The social media monitoring tools that will survive will be calling themselves Social Media Intelligence solutions
     
  3. Social intelligence will attempt to become its own discipline and not be part of the insights function… this will probably succeed in the SME space but not for blue-chip multinationals
     
  4. We will see new alliances forming in our space, either between existing Market Research giants or between smaller agencies joining forces towards success

Itching to predict something outside the realm of market research so here goes:

  1. Trump will be impeached and Brexit will be postponed indefinitely :) !




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