We love hearing what experts in market research have to say about the industry – especially when they are also our clients. That makes the Forsta Achievement in Insight and Research (AIR) Awards particularly special, and the recently announced 2021 awards were no exception.
The Forsta AIR awards celebrate excellence and innovation in market research, and the 2021 winners were truly exceptional examples of innovation in the market research space. Although our entrants are not judged on this question, we asked them to predict and comment on how they see the industry evolving over the next ten years.
There was remarkable agreement in what they had to say. Here, we have pulled out the new and continuing insight trends, and other emerging ideas, that will likely shape the future of market research.
1. Technology is the key to the future
We hoped our clients would say that! In fact, around a third of the award participants made this point. As one succinctly expressed it: “We will see more creative ways of engaging with respondents and collecting feedback. Technology will be absolutely key to this.”
Others mentioned how reduced physical interaction in the post-covid world had accelerated the use of technology. Yet the pandemic as a topic came up much less often than we had anticipated – we took this to mean our clients are already looking to a post-corona future as we move into 2022.
2. Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI was another hot topic. Specific technologies that our entrants thought the industry would make more use of included social listening analytics, tracking studies, emotional response technology, video analysis and more qualitative technologies blending seamlessly with quantitative. However, it was technologies that harness machine learning or artificial intelligence that were most hotly tipped to become important.
In the words of one entrant: “In 10 years, we should see technology and automation play a much bigger role in market research. While people will still lead the way, they will be getting a lot more help with machine learning, robotic computation and reporting, and data integration.”
Another predicts: “As this technology advances, we also expect to see more interest in behavioral research and the use of tech to analyze this, with data scientists utilizing more predictive analytics rather than hindsight.”
3. More data sources
Several entrants saw a future with more big data and merging data sources to develop a rounded view of the consumer, including more reliance on passive and observational data alongside a growing abundance of transactional and behavioral data.
One entrant went as far to predict a growth in: “Stronger feedback programs, where consumers participate in data generation more seamlessly, whether that’s through answering a question whilst watching a YouTube video (already available) or agreeing to provide behavioral data that a new slate of tools will be able to seamlessly analyze.”
4. Speed and efficiency
Many of the AIR Awards winners predict that the efficiency of technology is going to be increasingly important in allowing more time for thought and insight generation. However, as one person puts it “Speed and reliability are the hygiene factors”, or in other words, that’s a constant pressure that can never be ignored.
5. Skills and the tech-savvy researcher
Our winners also noted that with all this new technology comes the need for market research professionals to increase their skills, to become more tech-savvy (or less tech-averse).
They also predict a need to make room for new skillsets within the industry, as one entrant explains: “I’m excited to see the evolution of market research over the next 10 years. I think there is no better time to be in insights. We are uniquely placed to be the custodians of consumer truth. To leverage our scientific base and fuse it with newer disciplines (such as behavioural economics and design thinking), emerging technology (such as biometrics and virtual reality) and advances in analytics (such as machine-learning).”
6. Human experience
Around a quarter of the entrants spoke of the importance of focusing on the human aspects – the human component behind the screen, whether as a research participant or customer within the research chain.
One talked of the responsibility of the industry to show values such as sensitivity and empathy among clients, vendors and respondents. Another, looking further ahead (and, we suspect, speaking for many!) talks of the opportunities that understanding people better will bring to the industry:
“We believe the industry will evolve to being true business partners with organizations, providing a conduit directly into the hearts and minds of customers. The tools we use to do this will continue to advance as we learn more about humans, and technology further evolves. Truly understanding people and what they need is a key role for the research industry. When we understand and educate the business on these things, we will be valued.”
A special thanks to our customers who participated in the 2021 Forsta AIR awards and shared their MR predictions. We’re thrilled to continue to develop the technologies and services that support our customers in 2022 and beyond. The next 10 years will be an exciting time for the research and insights industry!
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