Market research has always been, and will always be, a driving force in steering business decisions about critical aspects of company operations from overall organization to more specific elements like marketing campaigns, product innovation, and the expansion of a growing consumer base. As the business climate shifts, creating new “norms” and revealing new trends and consumer habits, this crucial tool will have to bend and stretch to continue bringing valuable insights to the table.

Experts in the field have observed a variety of challenges facing this fascinating field. Here we’ll address four areas that deserve further consideration.

  1. The Slow Evolution of Market Research

Fuel Cycle suggests, “The same market research methods have been deployed repeatedly for the past few decades. When comparing that to how much society has changed in just a few short years, it’s easy to conclude that the information we get from traditional market research has completely plateaued. The methods of conducting and gathering research are slow to evolve, despite the boom of technology in other industries.”

  1. The Explosion of Data

The current volume of available data may present a “too much of a good thing” scenario.

Infoholic Research notes, “In today’s data-driven world, there is a data clutter, which is becoming more complex every day. Getting directed to the right data points and deriving meaningful insights from them has become a major challenge. Currently, the process of manually pulling data from the data ocean is quite a mammoth task, and sometimes it doesn’t ensure data accuracy. Tools and techniques must be in place to find the right information, and only then can appropriate data be extracted.”    

  1. The Human Dimension

At the heart of market research lies the goal and desire to understand people. “The more we know what people do, the more we need to know why they do it and what interventions might cause people to change what they do,” suggests Ray Poytner.

It’s crucial, as we charge full steam ahead toward greater use of big data, automation, and AI, that the human dimension plays an increasingly important role. This human-centric focus must include crucial elements such as—

  • Establishing what the business question is
  • Defining a specific problem that research will help answer
  • While the calculation of the results will increasingly be a task for data scientists and bots, understanding the resulting data will require human insight to interpret
  • Discovering the story within the results
  • Communicating that story in ways that lead to action
  1. Matters of Privacy

Annie Pettit, research methodologist, shares a scenario on the minds of the public at large these days. “I’m becoming more concerned about privacy in the work we do. We’ve become accustomed to privacy failures via hacks, breaches, lack of care, and a lack of concern about human desires and rights (ahem, Facebook). Business seems to come before people more and more often. Technology is making all things possible not only for brands and marketers but also researchers, and we need to keep in mind that consumers only give us their information because they TRUST us with it. We need to make sure we continue to earn their trust no matter how easy technology makes it to ignore privacy.”

Jane Rudling, managing director at Walnut Unlimited, leaves us with this nugget of wisdom as we look to the future—

“To take more risks and push the boundaries of what is possible to provide deeper insight, but in a way that meets the client’s increasing demands for quicker results and less money.  If we don’t break away from some of our more traditional preconceptions of what research is and how it should be done, others will take our place.”

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