The Future Of Research For Consumer Insights

A new report considers emerging consumer data sources, the rising need for synthesis experts, and the future of insights management.

Marketing research is an industry that operates at the intersection of professional and academic side of advertising. In fact, “advertising research” is an aggregation of methodologies (and theories) developed in departments of anthropology, psychology, sociology, statistics, visual arts, and other fields.

Last month, the Journal of Advertising Research published an article titled “The Shape of Marketing Research in 2021″. A PDF of the full paper can be downloaded below with full credits, as it is truly a collaborative effort by seven contributors. Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind as you read their work.

What Data Sources Will Impact Consumer Research?

  1. Mobile fundamentally lends itself to geographic targeting and the provision of real-time data. Its growing role is assured by rapid developments in bandwidth speed and data processing.
  2. User-generated Content, while organic and unfiltered, presents significant obstacles including high volume, lack of structure, and difficulty in syndication. The emergence of text and video mining technology provide a unique way to listen to consumers,
  3. Path Data points to the process  by which consumers come to decisions. Companies that focus on ‘shopper marketing’ have been developing this form of research for years.
  4. RFID Technology is another handy data point, especially for retailers. It will be especially informative when the move is made from tracking individuals to focusing on traffic and product flow.
  5. Eye Tracking is typically used to assess ad visuals and symbolism. While most eye tracking research is currently done at a lab, the proliferation of the technology make it a likely investment for retailers. Eye tracking is part of Neuromarketing, another growing discipline.
  6. Web Browsing includes data such as click-stream and sharing habits. It is currently underused due to the limits of collecting, storing, and analyzing this data, in real time.
  7. Social Networks are considered by some to resemble a focus group, but it is actually unlimited in terms of its potential for researchers. Consider the role social media plays in how consumers make purchase decisions and respond to their product experience.

3 Ways to Involve Consumers in Helping Client Decision Making

  1. Brand Communities enhance a firm’s ability to interact with consumers. It provides a direct link to loyal, casual users, and onlookers. Its growth is driven especially by encouraging consumer-to-consumer dialogue.
  2. Online Crowdsourcing enable non-experts to participate with the product innovation team. Also referred to as user-generated innovation, bigs brands are eliciting talent and input from outside the firm.’
  3. Field Experimentation are the lifeblood of qualitative researchers. Immersive field research is reserved f0r companies with a large user-base. Testing a fraction of their users informs consumer insight, brings authenticity, and can also be used to aid interviewees through strategic exercises.

Insights Management: Tips for Synthesizing Data Sources

A large driver of research is the culture that a single person brings into the synthesis of all data. Writers like Grant McCracken stress the possibility of democratizing the ability to synthesize culture. One can assert that creating “crossing inter-organizational” communication, instead of isolating the information sources and the team’s sophistication about their data’s relation to other methodologies and practices. Here are some tips on insight management:

  1. Agree with the client on the definition of an insight and what it needs to encompass
  2. Create your own taxonomy for insights, design a simple interface to present insights
  3. Get creative with your proprietary tools, but don’t overdo reference to it
  4. If you’re a serious consulting business, perfect how you communicate insights to Senior Management
  5. Read Dr.Paul Raspin’s Creating Marketing Insight (2008)
  6. Always keep convergence in short and long term planning

Barriers to Impacting Organizational Change and Thinking

Organizational Resistance is an on-going challenge. It can be improved by:

  1. Creating accessibility to research, both internal and external. Get used to coming to people with ideas, and ensuring transparency.
  2. Fighting Resistance to the New. Rooted in the saying “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” the truth is that newness comes with learning and elaborate training to make radical advancements in how things are accomplished.
  3. Institutionalizing norms by enabling employees, researchers, and consumers to see (and respond to) each other.
  4. Knowing how to defend you line of business
  5. Expecting to convey the depth of your thoughts to anything from C-suite leadership to engineers, designers, and strategists of all sorts.

Advertising Research Foundation

Advertising Research Foundation: The Shape of Marketing Research in 2021

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