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How technology has transformed market research

There’s very little in our increasingly curious world that has been left untouched by the advancement of tech. We rely on wearable technology to monitor our heart rate, smart technology to control our at-home heating, and automated technology to park our cars. So what impact is our growing reliance on super-clever tech having on market research?

Quite a sizeable one, actually.

In this blog, we’re going to look at the way technology has transformed market research – from what’s new in market research right now, to technology’s role in the future of market research.

So, buckle in and enjoy (unless you’re scared about the robots taking over…)

Technology in market research: what’s new?

Right then, let’s take a look at what’s going down in the modern world of market research.

Wearable tech is exploding

From the Oura Ring to the Apple Watch, wearable technology is big news right now – and it’s making seismic waves in the realm of market research. Wearable devices are a researcher’s dream: you get to observe customer behaviour in real-time, and in the real world – offering a unique insight into behaviour patterns that would be impossible to ever recreate in experimental conditions fully. You can truly see the real human now; a holistic view of who each of your customers are, even when you’re not looking.

Social media is everybody’s go-to

Whether your customers frequent Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Twitter, these platforms serve up an absolute treasure-trove of customer data, behaviours, and opinions. Because the feedback you glean through social media sites is completely unfiltered, you get an accurate idea of how your target market feels, and what they want. It’s also much easier to find suitable candidates for focus groups, and to share those all-important surveys.

Automation is making our lives much easier

Automation technology has benefitted from vast improvement over the last few years, making it far easier for market researchers to analyse swathes of complex data, and in turn, draw actionable conclusions around customer behaviour. We’re also seeing a boom in chatbot use across market research, which is helping organisations to both communicate with their customers, and collect crucial information, in record time.

Remote collaboration is a beneficial by-product of the pandemic

Since the dawning of the pandemic, we’ve seen heightened reliance on video collaboration tools and remote meetings: the benefit this brings to market researchers is the exhilarating freedom to move away from those logistically complex, time-consuming, in-person focus groups. Without the burden of hiring a venue and worrying no one will turn up, you can save yourself a whole load of stress (and money) by using pro tools that are specifically designed for market research professionals. This also means you can target a much more diverse sample of participants, as you’re not restricted by geography. Magic.

How has technology transformed market research?

We don’t have to fear technological advancement: technology is merely transforming and expanding what market research can do. Here’s how.

In recent years, market research processes have been seriously accelerated by tech – helping brands to understand what their customers really think, in a more efficient and cost-effective way. There’s been a distinct rise in self-service models, which has allowed businesses to carry out their own surveys (although we’d always recommend working with a knowledgeable partner), and a great big surge in agility – enabling researchers to rapidly test their products and measure responses with ease.

We’ve seen an explosion in new tech, which has blasted the industry out of the last century and accelerated market research into the realm of the future. Most notably, through the eye-tracking technology that bypasses the online surveys of old and allows researchers to actually watch shoppers in their natural habitats, going about their daily business. The transformation is such that even fixation and gaze points can be tracked – informing product design, store layout, and usability.

So, what other transformations have we seen?

Researchers are reaching a more diverse audience

When you’re confined by geographic location, it’s never going to be easy to cast your net far and wide. With the evolution of technology however, researchers are no longer restricted by participant proximity to a research site. Interviews and focus groups can be carried out online, and across continents. Brands can now paint a far richer picture of consumer feeling and customer behaviour than it was ever possible to achieve through phone calls, local interviews, or postal surveys.

Brands are building more insightful buyer personas

Old school buyer personas were often unhelpfully vague, with a whole heap of guesswork thrown in for good measure. But with limited info available to researchers before advancements in tech, creating accurate and truly insightful personas was incredibly difficult. Now, the swathes of information available through the internet and other tech tools can give researchers a refreshingly detailed view of their target customers – making it far easier to create detailed buyer personas that stand to serve a genuine purpose.

Technology’s role in the future of market research

Right then, what’s tech got in store for the next era of market research? Because things are unlikely to sit still; in fact, new advancements in technology are likely to continue to have a pretty sizeable impact on the future of market research.

Here’s what we’re expecting to see…

AR and VR gaining traction

Ah, what fun. Augmented reality and virtual reality really are bringing us ever closer to the world of science fiction – and market research will be coming along for the ride. In the coming years, you can expect to see far greater use of AR and VR in market research, as these nifty tools pave the way for far more interactive research.

With survey participants able to experience products and services in the comfort of their own homes, while being completely immersed in a world of your own creation, you’ll be able to collect incredibly insightful feedback by observing behaviour and tracking responses in real-time. You’ll save tonnes of money on shipping out physical products, and there’ll be no need to inconvenience your target customers by asking them to travel to a physical research location. Amazing!

Tech facilitating a more agile approach

It’s no secret that the field of market research has had to rely (perhaps a little too heavily) on educated guesswork and personal opinion in the past. But those days are numbered. Rather than taking big risks with little certainty, the advancements in tech will make it possible for businesses to take a more flexible approach to their market research – making frequent adjustments and course corrections in direct response to real-time feedback.

Voice assistants taking over the world

Okay, we may be being a tad dramatic, but voice assistants are going to become far more commonplace the world over. We’ve already got the wonders of Alexa and (OG) Siri becoming a mainstay of our everyday lives, but have you thought about how voice assistants could feed into your market research goals?

By providing a totally unique glimpse into the behaviour and habits of your customers, and with ethical data collection, voice assistants could unlock a very bright future for all of your market research endeavours.

Use technology to stay ahead of the competition

One of the main purposes of conducting market research is to give you real-time insight into what your customers are thinking and feeling. Getting to grips with customer feedback then – and ensuring you act on that feedback and leverage it for future success – will ultimately help to place you ahead of the competition.

But only if you move with the times.

With so much of today’s valuable customer insights out there in the world of social media, or spread disparately around the globe, you need to harness the power of technology if you really want to stay ahead of the trends, up to date with the rapidly evolving needs of your customers, and raring to go with the next big thing.

The impressively detailed technological advancements in market research can give you the most accurate insights into consumer behaviour that we’ve ever seen. Through the power of tech, it really is possible to leave no stone unturned when it comes to checking in with your target audience and making sure you’re hitting the mark with your products, services, customer care, and user experience. It’s all there for the taking.

So, if your competitors are resting on their laurels with old-school market research techniques, and you’re steering out in front with incredibly personalised technological insights, you’re going to find it much easier to monopolise market share, and to come out on top.

Just make sure you’re using every tool at your disposal: from social media and AI to automation and remote collaboration. And then? The future (of market research) is yours for the taking.

How can Forsta help?

Just because do-it-yourself market research tools are now readily available, doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself. There’s a heck of a lot to be said for partnering with a professional to really get to the nitty gritty of consumer experience and brand perception.

Forsta’s market research survey software makes it much easier to deliver a top-notch digital customer experience (which is what every brand worth its salt is striving for).

Our top tech can help you to investigate markets (from regions to competitors to target audience), and make sense of opportunities, issues, and routes to success. We’ll even turn that tech to scoping out new sectors – making the unknown a little more, well, known.

To learn more about how Forsta’s market research survey software can help you to plan, investigate, analyse and act on the most in-depth market insights out there, arrange your demo to see us in action.

Adapting to a new future of consumer insights  

Like it or not, the face of market research has changed irrevocably – so you may as well embrace it; bumps and all. Because as time continues to tick along, the impact of tech on how companies carry out market research is only set to increase.

Our advice? Keep an open mind and prepare your business to embrace evolutions in technology whenever they come along. The future will be here before you know it.

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