Innovative market research techniques | 2020 update 

By: Verbit Editorial

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Staple market research techniques, including focus groups and competitor analysis, are still relevant. However, 2020 looks set to shake the market research industry up just as much as any other field. Only by keeping on top of the latest trends do market researchers stand any chance of attaining innovation and, ultimately, making sure that products and services continue to meet the needs of clients and consumers.  

Most notably, in recent years, market research techniques once considered unconventional are now routine. These approaches are now necessary for companies looking for results. For instance, with a rise in online sales and eCommerce, there’s a need for more virtual research techniques. The events of 2020 forced the shift to happen much more quickly than it might have in other circumstances. 

This is just one piece of evidence that points towards an undeniable and overarching fact: innovation in market research techniques is now necessary, not optional. Still, what types of market research can live up to this new and improved focus? 

# 1 – Biometric measurement 

Market research once solely relied on verbal participation. Today, many researchers are finding that pairing this with biometric measurements makes for far more reliable, comprehensive findings. In fact, biometric factors such as tone of voice and eye movements can lead to insights that researchers wouldn’t have uncovered in the past. 

Campbell’s Soup displayed biometric benefits perfectly during their efforts to understand in-store purchase behavior better. During interviews with 1,500 subjects, they conducted a range of neurological tests to further contextualize. Their efforts rely on the fact that 75-95% of brain processing takes place below conscious levels. At the end of this extensive market research focus, Cambell’s chose to rebrand its iconic logo.  

While many responded to this approach with immediate skepticism, the new logo made soup shopping easier than ever before for the brand’s target market. This achievement arguably wouldn’t have been possible without such deep-diving research. 

Computer with charts

# 2 – Virtual reality 

Virtual reality has been on everyone’s radar since big-name brands such as PlayStation and Oculus took the helm. Now, brands like Alibaba are using this tech for market research. These brands are enjoying significant results from doing so. By providing users with a 360 VR setup of China’s largest supermarket, Alibaba market researchers were recently able to see, like never before, where consumers looked, which products they picked, and generally how they interacted with their surroundings.  

This finding is groundbreaking considering that researchers previously couldn’t determine factors related to 70% of consumer decisions, which occurred in stores. By implementing VR techniques at the market research stage, brands can test everything from customer service scenarios to consumer behaviors and beyond. These new methods offer much greater accuracy than traditional concept testing could ever achieve. 

# 3 – Gamification and surveys 

Surveys have been a primary market research method for more years than we care to count at this stage. The lasting power of these methods is because they’re undeniably invaluable for broad scale information gathering. Still, with every company now offering online surveys, getting consumers to interact is harder than ever. That’s where gamification comes in.  

By adding a sense of accomplishment, fun, and reward, gamification survey techniques like Teleflora’s point system have the power to increase both interactions and sales by as much as 92%. Options like discounts or other such incentives could undoubtedly see you collecting more information than ever before. Also, you can use these efforts to increase consumer satisfaction and offer rewards that boost your retention as a bonus. 

# 4 – IoT and geolocation 

While self-reporting was once the prime way to reach and understand a target audience, observational research and its lack of bias are fast coming to the forefront. The dominance of these techniques as top market trends is evident in IoT and geolocation. Connected machines like the smartphones we all carry provide invaluable qualitative data about a product, service or group of people. The geolocation abilities offer an increased understanding of buyer habits. Even better, most people already use these devices so this solution often costs less than many other market research techniques.  

There are countless examples of this research method in action right now, including real estate agents like JLL. This business is currently using connected assets such as lighting and chairs to understand how tenants use and interact with their spaces. With such research, the firm can explore informed and improved management processes moving forward. These benefits are ones that any brand could enjoy. 

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# 5 – Online collaboration tools 

Online capabilities play the largest part in changing every industry process. Market research is no exception. By using online collaboration tools like Skype, brands can conduct cost-effective focus groups across representative market segments. Without having to worry about participant transport or geographical restrictions, companies can gain a comprehensive idea of how others perceive their services and products. 

This method is becoming especially prevalent in the age of the survey site. Brands like Inspired Opinions offer fantastic opportunities for participants looking to join online studies. Companies that build their own legitimate email lists of new or existing customers can also take care of this in-house to further reduce costs and gather information about their target audience.  

# 6 – Video content analysis 

Whether conducting focus groups online or in person, the ability to analyze, transcribe and understand findings is crucial. Companies have attempted to achieve this by filming studies for years now. Despite the best efforts of many brands, it’s not unusual for specific focus group findings to remain unnoticed. Luckily, that’s a fate companies no longer need to battle thanks to video content analysis.  

Focus group filming in itself allows for repeated viewing and much better reading of reactions, outcomes and more. However, as filming in this field grows, companies are left with a great deal of content to scroll through. Fortunately, analysis tools can offer a solution. Now, companies can cut research time in half by turning to transcription services instead of listening to video content themselves. Also, object detection tools such as intelligent recognition make it easier than ever to skip forwards and backward using metadata that a brand needs to form focus group conclusions. 

# 7 – Social media mining and content analysis 

In an age where users send around 347.222 tweets every 60 seconds, it’s hardly surprising that social media mining and content analysis also won places on this list. From social media platforms alone, companies have access to more extensive customer data than ever. What’s more, mining social media analytics can reveal not just how consumers are shopping, but also how they interact with content on a broader scale. With clear focuses in mind, this can prove invaluable for consumer-led improvements on marketing reach across the board. 

Take, for instance, efforts currently in the pipeline from brands like Chick-Fil-A. This fast-food giant uses Amazon Web Services Comprehend to analyze social content that reveals food safety issues. This tool isn’t the only API making such research focuses possible. IBM also offers users an out-of-the-box natural language processing API in their cloud-based Watson, which aims to make it easier for brands to search advanced text analytics across social platforms and beyond.  

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# 8 – Mass Qual and Data storytelling — moving from data to context 

Previously, market research has primarily relied on quantitative data that centers around numerical approaches such as statistics to quantify consumer opinions. Now, though, as data poses its own challenges to the market research industry, many companies are realizing the value of qualitative data market research that relies more on personal insights and provides unrivaled context to results. This also includes data storytelling, which allows for even easier data mining that can be tailored to specific audiences.  

This has led to the emergence of the mass qual trend, which aims to merge these primary and secondary data formats into one easy-reach package. This mass qual approach means researchers can support their survey results and statistics with consumer quotes, opinions, and inputs. These storytelling elements can work wonders by increasing context and reducing data masses that once threatened to drown brands.  

What’s more, using these capabilities means that this mega-trend needn’t increase workloads in the slightest. For instance, analytics APIs take the work out of quantitative findings, while additions such as transcription services and facial recognition provide important consumer insights in less time.  

As companies attempt to stay afloat despite significant data influxes and changing consumer focuses, market research has certainly changed. Yet, by focusing on simplification and integration at every stage, research methods can continue to provide invaluable insight with ease and may even flourish as storytelling continues to come to the forefront. 

Verbit supports marketing research with useful tools like searchable transcripts. Reach out to Verbit today for more information about how our solutions can support your business.