Market research practices are remarkably simple when boiled down to their essence: take a market, ask it questions about products and services, and react to their demands. This is, of course, an over-simplification, but there was a time when this was almost exactly true and companies conducting market research had a remarkably simple job. Nowadays though, market research is a vastly more complex and ever-changing beast that needs constant monitoring and tracking in order to keep up with.
Keeping up isn’t always enough though and to go from an okay marketer to an industry leader, you need to have a pretty good idea what is coming up in the future and be ready to change and adapt in order to excel. But how do you know what the future holds? And more importantly, how do you know what new developments will flop? Below we’ve come up with a few new technologies and advancements in current technology that we think will change the market research world in the coming year.
Market research is a vastly complex and ever-changing beast that will take constant monitoring to plan for the future. Here are five new technologies that are bound to change the market research world in the coming year.
5G Mobile Connectivity
Unless you have been under a rock for the last few years you will doubtless be aware of the roll out of 5G across most of Britain. Put simply, 5G is just faster mobile internet but in reality, this could be a vast jump forward for mobile internet. The speed and reliability offered by 5G opens up a world of new possibilities for users that will heavily impact how they create data throughout their daily lives. 5G utilises smaller masts in much higher numbers, closer together so the location tracking capabilities alone are exciting for marketers.
Whatever your opinion on the technology the fact is that 5G allows more people to create more data more quickly and more consistently than ever before. More data means more insights and more insights means more accurate business decisions, put to good use this data can only be a good thing. The main obstacle to this taking place this year is the fact that only really the most recent couple of generations of smartphones cater to 5G usage. With the average lifespan of a smartphone being 15–18 months though it won’t be long before the majority of the market can experience 5G.
Video Conferencing Software
Video calling was first invented in the 1920’s (not a typo, it really was), but it’s been the last 10 years that have seen video conferencing really become a viable alternative to face to face meetings. The recent demand for video conferencing services due to Covid-19 has shown the incredible capabilities of platforms such as Zoom, JoinMe and Slack to name but a few.
Whilst there will come a day (hopefully very soon) that the immediate demand dissipates thanks to people being able to meet in person once again, the point is now proven that all companies can integrate this in to their business and all people can integrate it into their lives. Those of a more senior persuasion that may have been more reticent have in many cases now been shown the virtue of video conferencing by their children and as we know with technology there is no putting it back in the box.
With this increased acceptance and demand you can expect the capabilities of video to jump ahead also, whether this be via a combination with existing technologies or an entirely new idea, expect video conferencing to be a hot topic for at least the next 12 months.
SEO has developed over the last 8 years from a relatively simple practice of bombarding a site with links into something vastly more complex and detailed. Google Penguin came along in 2012 and really set the tone for Google clamping down on what were termed ‘Black-Hat’ SEO techniques. Rolling updates to Google’s algorithm have made sure that the pre-penguin days cannot return and marketers need to ensure that their marketing practices are as clean and appropriate as possible.
Advanced SEO has become a fairly blanket term for SEO nowadays, and is currently the practice of anticipating and catering to Google’s algorithm updates, ensuring that your domain is ready for them. Unlike the basic tenets of SEO these are not practices that can be learnt in days or even a few months and take an intimate knowledge of Google’s history and changes. Whilst most businesses recognised long ago that they required at least some input from either an inhouse SEO or an agency, expect those talented, experienced SEOs to be snapped up by companies in-the-know in the coming year.
Individual Customer Journey
An individual customer journey is something that was seemingly lost somewhere back in the 20th Century as mass production took off and niche shops were decimated by superstores. Now though, the personal touch is something that people are beginning to expect again. Think of how many micro-breweries or gin suppliers, personalised water bottles, family silhouette portraits and other products you’ve seen in recent years. The capitalist part of your brain says that these shouldn’t work but they do, and part of the reason for this is that the customer is part of the journey and is willing to pay for this privilege.
It’s not just small boutique businesses that do this and there are hundreds of examples of global companies that are giving their customers a personalised experience. Take Netflix as an example, undoubtedly one of the world’s biggest and most recognisable companies, and yet they come up with recommendations just for you. Think about the emails that you regularly get from Netflix with recommendations they are actually pretty unique to you and if you follow the recommendations then you’ll most likely love the shows it suggests.
So where is the technology in this you may ask? Well, how do you think that Netflix predicts these recommendations, a vast algorithm that takes in to account literally thousands of factors. The obvious features being what you’ve watched over and over again but also thousands of minutiae including things that you hovered over for slightly longer than usual.
For years (decades in fact) artificial intelligence has been espoused as being just around the corner to ensure our eternal damnation or salvation depending on which side of the bed the media gets out of. The truth of it is though that artificial intelligence isn’t something that will all of a sudden become a dominant technology overnight (á la I-Robot), and as with all new technologies it happens piecemeal and it’s been happening for years.
There are millions of examples of how artificial intelligence has made its way in to our everyday life from music recommendations on Spotify, Google results, Google maps and of course your smart speaker. Machine learning informs almost every decision that we make and not only is it easy to find examples of artificial intelligence, it’s hard to avoid them.
This technology is also incredibly useful and important to marketers in order to predict market trends and consumer behaviour. Even in the world post GDPR, where data is strictly controlled, the amount of data we create and hand over to machine learning processes is simply staggering. There simply isn’t time for this to be screened and assessed by any number of humans, enter AI and its huge capabilities of identifying, tracking and progressing patterns in your behaviour.
Whilst the advancement of AI will make huge changes to the market research industry, it won’t be something that you really notice and will gradually be more and more accepted.
Which Ones are Going to Succeed?
Now you know what we think will be the next big improvements, you’ll probably now want to know which of these you should be keeping a close eye on and potentially investing in. Unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball that predicts failures and successes but you’ll be glad to know that those mentioned are all already too big to be considered a risk for insight professionals to have their stake in.
The original version of this article appeared on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.