What We Learned at TMRE: How to Best Use Big Data

Filed Under: Qualitative Research


Erin Barber

President + Chief Client Officer, C+R Team

TMRE is the place for all that is new in research. This year was no exception. Not only did we hear about big data — the hottest of “hot” topics — we also heard about mobile, eye tracking, neuroscience, visual storytelling, “infotainment,” social media listening, online communities, Millennials, and much more. So what now? How do we process all of this information?

What do all of these technologies, methods, and reporting requirements mean for the research industry and its future? At the end of the day, what we took away from TMRE is that traditional research methods and the need to present crucial insights will never go away.

TMRE showed us that whatever new approached might appear on the horizon, they will derive power and validity from being integrated with tried and true methods. It is just like life; the new always succeeds by building on what has gone before. We can never forget the “shoulders of giants.”

Well, that’s exactly what we can do with all of the great, newer information we took away from TMRE. As corporations tried to make sense of Big Data…

  1. We will always need surveys, but now we need to think about how they are taken on mobile devices and tablets. We need to ensure that respondents not only have a good experience so they provide accurate answers, but we also want to make sure that the new mode provides us with the data we need. Mobile is here to stay and we need to account for it. It’s not just about using it for specific projects that we need in-the-moment experiences; it means that our respondents are taking surveys on mobile devices whether we want them to or not.
  2. Eye tracking and neuroscience provide us with a more complete story of how consumers shop, but we need our surveys and in-store shop-alongs (among other methods) to begin the story and give us that starting point in understanding how consumers plan and some context around why they chose not to buy something they stared at for minutes. Also, it allows us to compare to data from years ago and add new insight.
  3. The same goes for social media. It’s been incorporated into companies’ research repertoires, but it’s only a piece of the puzzle and alone does not give a perfect answer.
  4. Our clients have a brief window during which they provide their leadership with solutions. As such, we need to recognize this reality. We need to craft clear stories that our clients can present in 10 minutes or less. We need to help them paint the picture. We may love the “great” information we uncover, but let’s just answer the key questions for our clients and not inundate their stakeholders with data.


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