Market research has always been an integral part of doing business. Understanding your customer, who they are, what their wants and needs are, their location and demographics are all crucial in formulating an effective marketing plan. As most marketers will attest, the more information that you can gather on your customers, the more effectively you can sell to them.
In the past, marketers carried out their research through customer surveys and interviews which were conducted either over the phone, face-to-face, or by post. However, in the last decade, technology has changed the game completely. With more people online than ever before, especially after the release of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 and the birth of Facebook in 2004, more detailed statistics regarding customer profiles and behaviour became available. Advancements in technology such as social media, website scrapers, analytics tools, and the ability to conduct research in emerging markets have allowed market research to become incredibly efficient and effective.
Continue reading to learn how market research has changed in the 2010s and is continuing to evolve.
In the world of marketing, the term ‘big data’ has been the buzzword of the last decade. With developments in communications, computing and data storage, there has been a constant growth of ‘big data’ available to researchers. Having the ability to tap into this mass of analytics and information on different customer groups and behaviours has completely changed how market research is conducted. Big data did exist pre-2006 but, now, with improved research tools, researchers can gain more precise and detailed insights than before. This means that marketers can put strategies in place that are more tailored, effective and, ultimately, achieve better results.
The emergence and uptake of social media over the last fifteen years or so has changed the way we interact and communicate with each other. Every like, retweet, page-follow, profile update and post can be analysed by market researchers to build customer profiles more accurately than ever before. With users willingly sharing this information through their social media profiles, these platforms have effectively become a researchers dream. In the 2010s the most popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest added analytics and insights for researchers eliminating the need for third-party software.
With the development of infrastructure and communications around the globe, the world has become a smaller place than it once was. We can now have real-time conversations with people on the other side of the world at any time of the day, have video conferences while we walk to work and send documents anywhere on the planet with the swipe of a finger. From a research perspective, this heightened connectivity allows us to better understand and gain insights into emerging foreign markets with ease. China, for example, is one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world. Language and cultural differences made it difficult for marketers to reach these markets in the past but with the tools available nowadays and with constant connectivity, the doors to these emerging markets have opened up.
Traditionally, researchers used focus groups, surveys and polls to gain reactions to products and marketing strategies. And, while these techniques can still be highly effective in some situations, online communities have, for the most part, replaced these research techniques. Developed over the last number of years, these online communities are groups of people recruited with the sole purpose of sharing their opinions at very regular intervals rather than in an ad-hoc fashion as it would have been in the past. This helps researchers to always have their finger on the pulse in terms of the latest trends by simply listening to the conversations between members of these communities.
The Future Of Market Research
As technology continues to develop, tools improve and more information becomes available, the future of market research certainly looks bright. The days of stopping consumers in the street to ask them to complete a survey or poll or definitely behind us. With so many people living such a large portion of their lives in the digital realm, consumer actions and behaviours will continue to be tracked, measured and analysed, giving researchers access to even more data, that can be used for better results by marketing agencies in the future.