Market research is a constantly evolving industry, with innovations happening in all stages of the research experience. Because the insights industry is constantly evolving and expanding to include new disciplines, technologies, and methodologies, there is almost too much going on. It has been hard to whittle all of the innovations down to what I believe are 4 of the most important ones:
1. Artificial Intelligence Innovations
Technology has been a huge catalyst for innovation within the insights industry, and one of the biggest innovations that has come out of this is the invention and development of artificial intelligence.
There are various machine learning principles that are currently being applied to various stages in market research in order to automate and increase efficiency. But there have been advancements in the past couple of years that mean that AI can have further future applications within the research experience in all stages.
Market research is a constantly evolving industry, with innovations happening in all stages of the research experience. Which 4 insight innovations should smart researchers keep an eye on for the future?
Natural Language Generation that converts data into text, decision management applications through logic-based systems, and deep learning platforms that process big data and recognise patterns; these tools have already been developed on a fundamental level and are slowly being incorporated into businesses and market research to automate various lower-level processes.
But there are many more AI applications that are being developed such as biometrics, more developed chatbots, and automated content creation, the latter two of which could be combined to manage online research communities in the future! However, they aren’t quite at the stage we need them to be, so it’s best to keep an eye on artificial intelligence to better understand how it works and how it’s being developed so any future applications will be easier to apply within the research process.
2. The Research Applications of Smart Technology
AI and IoT evolution will lead to many future research applications, such as automation of basic processes and the potential incorporation of Smart Technology into the research repertoire. With the owning of smart technology and the potential for fully connected homes on the rise, researchers should be more excited about taking advantage of this kind of technological adoption.
The applications for smart technology in market research are many, from delivering research tasks (which also have the benefit of being more disability friendly) to the collection of more passive behavioural data and better participant communication opportunities, this will broaden the type and amount of data that researchers can ethically collect to gain better and more accurate insights.
So, with smart technology looking like a boon to market research in the future, it seems wise for researchers to keep an eye on its uptake and abilities within domestic residences. With the combination of AI and Smart Tech to form the Connected Home, real-time data collection and analysis can become the norm, with researchers focussing on insight generation and leaving the data collection and partial-analysis to AI applications. This concept of the Connected Home will open up many opportunities for market research and behavioural economics, and the research industry needs to be ready to use this technology to gain these closer insights demanded by future clients.
We’ve created a whitepaper detailing how smart technology needs to be adapted in order to be of use as a market research channel. From the development of algorithmic empathy to pick up on the more subtle nuances of respondent answers to the collection of both passive and active data, check out the whitepaper to find out more.
3. Social Media, Semiotics, and Visual Communication
Visual aids are becoming a staple in modern communication, whether through GIFs, Memes, or Emojis, whether on their own or combined with written text, these visual aids add a level of depth that written text alone can’t.
Visual communication like this has been perpetuated by social media through the added functionality to messaging services and increased user connectivity, and finding way to interpret this visual communication will not only enable us to take advantage of this deeper visual communication in market research but also enable us to interpret insights gained from passive data collection on social media.
Semiotics is the key currently to accurately interpreting these answers. There are two schools of semiotics, defined by their use (or lack of) context within the interpretation process:
- Structural Semiotics (Interpret visuals based on face value)
- Social Semiotics (very dependent on the various contexts in which the visual communication was created and used)
But as long as social media and visual communication keeps evolving, so will the ways in which to interpret it. Semiotics might be the key for now, but eventually it might not be enough on it’s own to interpret the increasingly complex visual aids used within online communication. These interpretive techniques will be needed, as social media shows no signs of stopping in it’s effort to become a behemoth of a communication platform.
Social media listening is a great research technique that provides researchers and businesses with a way to build a connection to true and diverse customer-base. However, with the rules of (poststructuralist) semiotics, we will all instinctively interpret signs and symbols in our own way, and each person’s interpretation will be inherently different despite any similarities. We have written another whitepaper detailing how semiotics can bridge this gap between the two interpretations, and gain the most likely accurate interpretation to generate insights from.
4. Creative Reporting for Insights Activation
With all of the innovation that is continuously updating the myriad of data collection and analysis methods in market research, there is very little going on in the reporting stage of the research experience. Graphs, data tables, and copious written explanations just aren’t engaging enough to keep up with the increasingly visual and digital culture we are perpetuating. And with all of the innovation going on to enhance the different stages of market research, these reports are starting to look and feel very outdated.
Creative reporting techniques are currently being experimented with in a variety of ways; for example, PwC have created an interactive infographic report that shows the results of their Connected Home 2.0 survey, in which they asked a variety of consumers what smart technology they have or would be open to incorporating into their household to create a Smart Home. This interactive website-based infographic is perfectly simple to walk through on your own, and summarises neatly, creatively the key findings of the research.
Truly smart researchers should be watching the many different innovations to incorporate into and enhance their own personal offering within the industry, as well as the offering of the insights industry itself.
This interactivity is key to the creation of an engaging research report, but there are different ways to engage with a report depending on the medium in which it’s presented. Actively exploring the insights such as through PwC’s interactive online infographic is one brilliant way of displaying results, however, we’re exploring the act of mental engagement through interpretation.
FlexMR’s Consumer Postcard Project takes key thematic insights from a short-term qualitative research study and turns them into art pieces with a short, written explanation on the back. This art piece provokes the audience, and entices them to read into the art piece to interpret the insights for themselves. This mental engagement has proven to be successful in the retention of these insights and prove that the most unexpected creative ways of reporting can have the shock impact needed to grab stakeholder attention and better guarantee that the insights will be acted on.
The Future of Insights
As I said earlier, it was hard to whittle down the list to just four insight innovations to concentrate on, which is why they’re so broad in terms of their place in the industry. AI, smart technology, gamification, VR and AR, social media listening, creative reporting, neuro-research and behavioural economics, truly smart researchers should be watching the many, many different innovations to incorporate into and enhance their own personal offering within the industry, as well as the offering of the insights industry itself.
The original version of this article appeared on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.