Will market research make it to 2025?

Will market research make it to 2025?

Online surveys, opinion polls, shopping diaries and product reviews. Market research has long been an important tool for gaining vital insights about competitors, economic shifts, demographics, market trends and consumer behaviour. However, in this world of digital technology and big data, is market research at risk of becoming redundant?

Our rising engagement with the internet of things has led to a staggering amount and variety of data being readily available, including our preferences, buying habits and whereabouts. In theory, businesses no longer have to go out to consumers to discover how they are being marketed or perceived. As reported by IBM, around 90% of the world's data has been produced in the last two years. From tweets and posts to GPS locators, pictures and videos, businesses can extract information about what people think or did at a particular moment in time, and target and reach them almost instantaneously. And the speed and ease with which this data can be collected and analysed has been made easier by advances in technology and a lack of privacy surrounding social media. So how can marketers make sense of all this data? Does big data matter? Or is small and smart better?

I don’t believe that big data will make market research surplus to requirements. But it is definitely having an impact on how organisations digest information. By itself, data are facts – things that have happened and are proven to be true. For this alone, we see that data in isolation cannot explain why customers respond to a business’ marketing efforts in the way that they do, nor their expectations, satisfactions and pet hates. What were they thinking when they bought a certain product or service? What did they hope for and did they get what they expected?

It is, however, difficult to ignore the power of big data. As YouGov’s Freddie Sayers recently stated, “Big data can bring you exactly those little things that you would normally never think to ask – the things that reveal who your customers really are”. In my opinion, highly analysed data in combination with rich qualitative insight is the ideal opportunity for marketers to better understand consumer behaviour.

It will be interesting, though, to see whether the businesses that become too reliant on big data will see the effects of customers’ growing concerns around data privacy. Will customers prefer to be targeted for market research than have their personal information invaded by big data? What do you think?


Anne Godfrey Former Chief Executive Officer CIM
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