Where Do You Stand on the Future of Market Research?

When someone asks about the future of qualitative research, there is usually one of two answers industry experts will give:

1) Gloom and doom: “The end is near!”
2) Change is good: “These are exciting times for our industry!”

We definitely fall into the more optimistic category, but our glasses aren’t so rosy that we don’t see how all of this change (online qualitative research, mobile qualitative research, etc.) in the industry could negatively affect some of the tried-and-true research methods available today.

Simon Chadwick of Cambiar Consulting agrees, and even takes it a step further in a guest post at GreenBlog. He says there are three natural responses to the question about the future of market research and that all three have some truth:

1) “Traditional MR techniques … are on their way out and unless the MR industry wakes up to this fact very fast, it will be wither and die on the vine, much like the buggy makers at the dawn of the automotive era.”

2) “All of this is just a fad, a rush of blood to the collective head of the industry, and after a while we will all calm down and realize that the survey is going to be just fine. Anyway, none of these methodologies can substitute for proper probability-based sampling and finely-honed questionnaires.”

3) “This is the new research paradigm and it’s exciting! In 10 years’ time, research will look totally different and we will all be better off as a result.”

So what say you? If you had to pick one of these responses, which one would it be? Or, do you have your own? Please speak your mind in the comments section below.

2 Comments
  1. #3 definitely. Marketing research is changing fundamentally. Survey’s will continue to be around for quite a while but they will be more limited than now because so much more data will be available from other sources. We saw a glimpse of this trend when companies started data mining of shopper data. That is expanding geometrically with huge new databases and the coming capabilities to gain true insights from social media. There are literally dozens of trends that all point to a more diminished role for the traditional survey.

    With change comes opportunity. We can now engage consumers in a more complete way than 50 years ago. Compare current ethnography capabilities (visits, mobile qualitative, online journaling, webcam interviews, etc.) with the door-to-door methods of 50 years ago and you see that the industry has come light years and that there are more opportunities now in the industry than ever before. We will advance more in the next 10 years than in the last 50 and the opportunities will be accelerated as well…for those who are willing to change.

    My favorite new quote came from the EVP of Coke at the ARF Conference. He said, “If you don’t like change, you will like irrelevance even less.” The flip side is that if we embrace change, it brings opportunity.

  2. I definitely think the world is in for a big change. We haven’t seen the worst yet economically.

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