Essential websites for researchers
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Essential websites for researchers

A dozen websites to explore to keep pace with developments in market research. 

In my recent webinar, I spoke about the trend towards using software, apps and other tools to collect feedback from consumers. I was stressing the importance of adding attitudinal data to the numbers and measures, and the need to recognise that big data alone will not deliver insight.

One of the listeners asked me about survey software and, while many people are familiar with SurveyMonkey, in fact Snap Surveys is particularly well-geared towards the needs of market researchers. At a recent workshop with Snap Surveys, among the main developments they reported were the use of adaptive software to ensure that your survey looks equally attractive on mobile devices as it does on laptops and PCs. They reported that some 35% of surveys coming through their web host are now on mobile. They also offer a ‘mobile anywhere’ facility whereby you can interview while offline, which is especially useful if you want to do a kiosk–style survey out of Wi-Fi range. There is a lot of functionality to make self-complete surveys more engaging, including sliding smiley faces, using an image as a tick-box, and inserting videos and so on. Something I worry about when using Google forms for surveys is the security of data. One advantage of using Snap’s software is that it has secure data handling with ISO 27001 accreditation.

Talking of on device research (e.g. kiosks at events), among the companies I am familiar with are Brand & DeliverOpinionmeter and On Device Research.

I would encourage companies in both B2B and B2C markets to develop a panel, club or community of customers and/or prospects for relationship building and ensuring good levels of participation when there’s a need for feedback. For access to external panels, there are many omnibus providers that offer access to already recruited panels. Other online research companies have developed their own panels, including that offered by Research Now

The areas of development that I find interesting, although I have very little personal experience, include the work on sensory signatures by Brandphonics from MMR Research Worldwide. You can watch their video on YouTube, as well as the brain imaging work being carried out by Neuro-Insight.

To keep pace with developments in sentiment analysis, Hootsuite have produced some useful reports and white papers.

During my CIM course on driving insight from research, one of the areas we cover is the need to keep tabs on trends across a range of sectors – not just your own. Inspiration can be drawn from innovation in other markets and a number of trend-watching sites produce weekly updates that can be a great source of new ideas. Two of these sites include Trend Hunter and JWTIntelligence. These, together with many others, also produce reports each year along the lines of “top 10 Global trends in…”  as both reviews of the past year and projections for the forthcoming year.

I would encourage anyone who is either a user or provider of market research to stretch their imagination and create new approaches to gathering data and feedback. We still may use face-to-face, telephone, observation or self-complete methodologies, but it is the actual approach (which, in many cases, may embody the harnessing of new technology) that will ensure the success of the exercise.

I must also repeat the point I made about the importance of ensuring that what is used is in fact representative of the audience or market out there. In many cases, a self-complete survey represents those that are able and/or willing to fill out the questionnaire. However, who is to say if they are ‘typical’? Often they are not and it should be a part of the research design to make use of a ‘control’ group that are contacted deliberately and systematically in order to measure how representative the key findings of the survey are.

In the same way as a self-complete or online survey relies on those that happen to decide to complete them, too much of the desk research undertaken nowadays depends on what happens to arise in a Google search. This is one way to discover information, but I feel strongly that unless there is a deliberate effort to identify the nature of the information sought beforehand and to search in a systematic manner for the specific facts and data, then the output risks being partial and/or biased.

Finally, I should mention Research-live as the website of the Market Research Society in the UK, as well as our own CIM website, where you can access the latest research and thought leadership.

Jean Sutton CIM Course Director
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