I recently attended the Quirk's Event in Brooklyn, NY, shortly after two colleagues attended the first one in California. The conference was packed; with 30-minute sessions starting as early as 8:15am, there was a lot to digest. But after having some time to reflect on two very busy days, what stood out to me is the pace at which market research is changing. There are new technologies and methodologies that are influencing just about every aspect of market research, and it's more important than ever to stay on top of these changes. Below I highlight some of the relevant topics that we at C+R see as having the biggest influence on market research in the near future.
- Machine Learning. This is one of the new technologies that is getting a lot of buzz, particularly as it relates to unstructured data analysis. One session presented by Conversant featured a machine learning tool they've developed that drastically improves the performance of social media listening. To us, this means that as machine learning comes into its own, unstructured data will become increasingly more useful and informative.
- Quantifying Qualitative Insights. We also heard about tools that are allowing us to quantify qualitative insights quickly and easily. Companies like Meta4 Insight and GlimpzIt have developed tools that allow visual metaphors to be layered onto quantitative surveys (or asked separately from a quant survey but among a large sample). This approach combines the benefit of an engaging qualitative technique and marries it with a more robust, reliable sample size.
- Virtual Reality. As was mentioned in a talk by YouGov, at 4 years since introduction, Virtual Reality is being adopted at a pace that surpasses both cell phones and wearables at the same point following their launches. As VR household penetration continues to increase and consumer applications become more readily available, the number of market research tools and applications will expand in kind.
- Big Data, etc. The two days wouldn't be complete without mentioning big data, and the myriad new products and offerings available to try to leverage all the information that's now available (BlueKai, Numberator, etc). And we are seeing plenty of new tools popping up that are making traditional research methodologies more efficient and effective.
Put all of this together, and it's clear there is a LOT to stay on top of. Research Rockstar referred to this proliferation of tools, technologies, & methodologies as the "rising data tide," which feels like a very appropriate phrase to describe the current environment. But these new technologies also present new opportunities to provide more meaningful and impactful insights. At C+R, we make it a priority to stay on top of technology and innovation. We are ready to embrace the change, find ways to leverage these new technologies, and keep our eyes open for what's next.