What’s in store for market research and insight in 2024? Ruth Gosling, Insight and Analytics Manager at Mobas, takes a look at some of the trends and what they mean for our clients.
It’s the time of year when everyone is making predictions for the year ahead. Based on conversations with our clients, our own research, and a review of the market, here are some thoughts on what we’re looking forward to in 2024.
The continued rise of AI:
Like many other sectors, AI is stirring things up in the insight world, with industry leaders describing it as the biggest change in decades to the way market research is designed, conducted and reported.
Generative AI tools are being developed to assist with all stages of the insight journey. At the survey design stage, AI can enable us to design more engaging, interactive surveys. There are also significant implications for data collection, where ‘synthetic respondents’ (generative AI responses to survey questions which mimic human responses based on previous data) have potential to reduce the need for human survey responses, creating cost and time efficiencies. And at data analysis stage, there are a range of tools that speed up the analysis of data across multiple formats, including free text, numerical and video, identifying key themes, trends and subgroup differences.
Whilst there is much to get excited about here, we are proceeding with caution. The Market Research Society and other leading voices from within the insight industry have highlighted concerns around ethics, bias and lack of transparency associated with AI.
Our view at Mobas is that AI will support us in our key focus: providing high quality, actionable insight to our clients. We will continue to explore its potential benefits in cost and time saving, but it will not replace the involvement of our senior, experienced team, and real conversations with consumers.
A greater focus on improving the experience for research participants
A recent report on industry trends described the “Great Respondent Revolt” facing brands and researchers. As in all walks of life, consumers are becoming more savvy, with higher expectations and lower attention spans. They will not tolerate long, complex surveys, and brands that continue to use these will be faced with declining participation rates and poor data quality.
Going forward, it is important to ensure that the research process is as transparent, engaging and efficient as possible. Joining the dots with other data sources, such as CRM, social media, and website reviews, will greatly improve the research process for both brands and participants, by enabling greater personalisation, avoiding asking what is already known, and providing more holistic, insightful data.
Diversity and inclusion will continue to be an area of focus for research. Ensuring that research techniques are accessible to, and represent the views of, all audiences, should be a priority. One aspect of this relates to sampling techniques. The Market Research Society (of which Mobas is an accredited member) has updated its guidance for nationally representative research to include sexual orientation, disability and ethnicity in quotas, which provides greater clarity and transparency around representativity in research.
Relationships between brands/ researchers and participants will continue to become more collaborative, rather than the traditional, more passive approach of answering a set list of questions. Giving participants a choice of how they respond is one way to improve this, for example, the option to respond to open-ended questions by video rather than text. This is particularly popular among younger consumers, who are generally more willing to share video content and often find it quicker than typing a response. Video response is a technique which we have been using for several years at Mobas, including on a recent project for the Royal Society of Chemistry, enabling Gen Z to express their views on climate change in their own words.
At Mobas, we regularly use collaborative research techniques such as co-creation sessions, to involve consumers directly in the creative development process. This technique was highly successful in the development of the recent ‘Best for my chest’ campaign, which was led by, and for, the LGBTIQ+ community.
The need for agile, ongoing feedback
The lifespan of research projects is decreasing. A recent report on industry trends suggests that there was a time when a research project had a shelf life of five years, but is now around five months.
Constant societal shifts will mean that consumer attitudes, needs and behaviours are continuously evolving. The annual survey is likely to become a thing of the past. It is no longer possible to assume that you understand your customers based on a piece of research or a segmentation that was done two years ago.
Of course, budget and timescale constraints can make it challenging to conduct research at regular intervals. At Mobas, we draw on a range of techniques to provide ongoing insight to help brands keep up with their customers. These include use of regular pulse surveys (for example using omnibus surveys to reduce data collection times and costs), qualitative techniques (such as groups, interviews and accompanied shops), and other data sources to fill the gaps (such as ongoing social listening, or analysis of existing customer data).
There will be exciting opportunities in 2024 for brands to evolve the ways that they seek insight from consumers. Drawing on the efficiency benefits offered by AI, developing a more equal, collaborative relationship with consumers, and keeping up to date with the changing needs of consumers should be key priorities.
Mobas would love to support you on your insight journey. Ready to talk? Get in touch with us a firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat with our insight specialists.