Last year there seemed to be such a plethora of posts (including some of ours) about the top trends in the market research industry that we thought it was time for a break.
But when Tom Anderson of Next Gen Market Research came up with the idea of a whole lot of NGMR bloggers simultaneously blogging on the top 10 issues the MR industry has to consider in coming years it seemed too much fun to miss. Here’s our views then — to be fair we’ve dropped out a few of the more totally obvious “top 10” and maybe elevated some we think are important but often overlooked — but we’ll be interested in hearing what you think (and do look up the others posts via Tom’s blog or on Twitter at hashtags: #NGMR #5Hot5Not).
Let’s start with our 5 “Not Hot”.
- Reining in HR. After years of imposing restrictive salary structures and job description demarcations along with their depiction of creative staff as being ‘high maintenance’, senior management finally abandons the tedious tenants of HR orthodoxy and starts treating imaginative and innovative researchers in the same way the top advertising agencies treat their best art directors and copywriters. In some cases, they even get a place at the top table again!
- Neuroscience Backlash. In the early 70’s researchers quickly became disillusioned with user-unfriendly mainframe driven multivariate analysis before embracing it fully as MVA enjoyed a deserved renaissance with the advent of the PC and the introduction of Windows. In the same way marketers will become disenchanted with the promises of Neuroscience until it becomes accessible, understandable, and scalable.
- Dropping the hot BRICs. As the BRIC’s develop and competition intensifies, many major MR players will become more critcal about the BRIC markets. It’ll be realised that higher cash volume returns in slower growing but ‘absolutely’ larger dollar value mature markets can be driven by relatively minor business improvements and value creation efforts. Such ‘tweaks’ will be recognised as key to business profitability. Simultaneously, as some find it increasingly difficult to make inroads in the largest emerging markets, the next level of emerging markets (e.g Indonesia) will become more attractive.
- Expats give way to Experts. As research becomes more and more mobile, and cost pressures hit companies around the globe, the attraction of expensive “on-site” managers and specialists in remote locations will continue to fade. But the need for scarce expertise and management skills will actually increase as the industry has simply not trained up enough people, especially in growth sectors/markets. So maybe there will be fewer fancy jobs in exotic locations, but expect to see MR firms making far more use of “mobile experts”, both external and internally sourced, on temporary assignments or working virtually to support local teams.
- Shopper Research & the Emperor’s new clothes. It will dawn on Retailers and Marketers that Consumer Research and Shopper Research are one and the same thing and it’s the Directing of the Customer by the Retailers that’s the crux of the matter. Retailers will be key in driving this, as they diversify outlet types and sales channels while facing an increasing need to understand the impact of chain and private label branding. This will rapidly drive them to reach beyond the narrow confines of purely “shopping habits” orientated research.
And here’s what we think are the “hot issues” – the five that will determine the positive momentum and direction of change in our industry
- Renaissance of the Research Entrepreneur. The research entrepreneur has always been around, but we think the times favour a class of flexible, innovative senior executives who combine business skills with research and marketing nouse, are prepared to take a few risks and who invest strategically in new products and geographies. This is not a small/company big company thing – it’s about combining flexibility with planning, and adopting a entrepreneurial approach to business generally. We see signs of it in companies of various sizes and think it will be the mark of the next wave of successful MR agencies.
- Pay for Performance gets serious. For a couple of years now, people like Coca-Cola have been starting to talk about wanting better ROI from their MR and about “paying for performance”. We predict that, as measures of research ROI improve, this will get serious. Good news for innovative agencies and MR professionals, another nail in the coffin for those who fail to adapt their business models.
- The “Soft Stuff” Toughens Up. Despite a lot of effort over many years the measurement of consumer engagement with brands and products remains complex, soft and fragmented with multiple, competing measures and indices. Client demand for greater consistency and more ROI from research will combine with the development of better methods of assessing equity, loyalty and emotion to produce more universally accepted measures of these drivers. Not quite the equivalent of TV Ratings as yet – but moving in that direction!
- Tablets & Mobile Research. Mobile consumers need mobile research. iPad, Android tablets, smartphones combine with the new wave of RFID,GPS/GPRS and QRcodes to make everything and everybody far easier to research. Complex video demos can be taken anywhere, passive collection of all sorts of data in all sorts of location. Paradoxically, firms that adapt and update old school face-to-face interviewing and mystery shopping may be among the bigger beneficiaries of this.
- It’s The Message Not The Media. Solutions that integrate results across media sources, and can capture a picture of total marketing effort will become ever more important. Understanding the cumulative impact of in-store, outdoor ads, web, TV, press, social media and word of mouth buzz will become more vital as marketers and advertisers struggle to balance tactical and strategic marketing budgets.
So that’s it, our top 10 of the hot and not. We’d be keen to hear what you’d add or take away for this list. We’d also like to acknowledge borrowing a couple of the ideas from a recent talk on “Top 10 trends for advertising in 2011” by Peter Fairbrother, Executive Director of Ipsos ASI Australia – thanks for the inspiration Peter. And, as we said at the top – please do look at all the other NGMR blogs on this topic. Thanks also to Tom Anderson for thinking of this, and organising us all!
Alastair & David.