1. Market researchers will need to be increasingly flexible and creative in their working style
New tools like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other new technologies claim to empower researchers to collect and analyze more data than ever. At the same time, some people are concerned about the quality of the data being extracted, the respondent experience, and privacy concerns. Just as the introduction of online surveys did not eliminate all other methodologies from the market researcher’s toolkit, neither will these new and emerging platforms. Market researchers must blend new and existing tools with human intelligence and judgment to meet their clients’ and consumers’ rapidly evolving needs. We will see researchers flexibly blending methodologies where technology, in particular automation, takes on some heavy lifting and allows data to be processed and analyzed at scale. At the same time, human creativity provides the ability to reframe ideas, challenge assumptions, and compellingly communicate insights.
2. Market researchers will need to be increasingly multidisciplinary
Just a few decades ago, researchers could count on their internal clients coming predominantly from the marketing function. Today, nearly everything a company does involves data collection and analysis, which means that marketing research serves clients throughout the organization. Rather than working in a Marketing silo (or worse, an Insights silo), research is becoming more deeply connected to other business areas, reflecting a more holistic approach. As a result of this integration, companies need research to provide integrated market research, with tools and systems that plug directly into various sources of data rather than requiring information to be imported or exported.
3. Market researchers will need to be increasingly able to understand large data sets from non-traditional sources.
Thanks to the explosion of technology, companies are collecting more data than ever. Additionally, this data collection is continuous and seemingly never-ending. They want and need to find meaningful insights within that data. Social media, online shopping behavior, and other sources of information provide a new perspective on consumer behavior. Market research has typically been involved with limited and often static data sets. It will now have to learn how to combine insights from significant, unstructured, organic data sources and the traditional, more structured information provided by quantitative and qualitative research. It will be critical for researchers to become experts in understanding their data sources, how they were obtained, and how to integrate everything into relevant, meaningful, and valuable insights.
4. Market researchers must be increasingly proactive in developing and providing information.
The role of market research is becoming more complex. Instead of being order-takers, researchers are embedded in critical projects determining a company’s future. Researchers must become experts in identifying information needs – before the company identifies them. Agile research (researchers running smaller surveys or research projects iteratively, each one building off the findings of the one before) demands that the researcher works hand-in-glove with Product Development, Finance, Human Resources, Sales, Customer Service, Manufacturing, and Marketing. In this way, market research professionals must take a more active role in their companies success or failure.