Trends That Will Shape Market Research In 2011: Organization, Technology, And Social

It’s the time of year again, in which we tend to look back at what has been, and look forward to what will happen. Looking at this from a professional angle, 2010 was a very interesting year for the industry: research vendors bounced back from the recession, there was an increased focus on added value, and we saw a lot of innovation happening. In our report Predictions 2011: What Will Happen In Market Research, my team and I have identified a number of trends that we expect to shape market research in 2011.

Organization, technology, and social are defining the research agenda in 2011. In fact, in 2011 market researchers need to embrace social media as an information source, recognize technology as a driver of change while understanding how to implement it effectively, and continue to identify and integrate innovative methodologies to prepare for the future ahead. This will drive, for example, the following trends:

  • The industry should coalesce around a long-term vision for the profession. The past year saw some lively debates about how market research professionals have to prepare themselves for the future. In fact, there was even a debate over whether or not market research would still exist as a profession in 20 years’ time. To continue to stay relevant, client-side market researchers need to take on the task of redefining the role their departments play in the business. Some questions they’ll be addressing: What will be the vision, mission, and values of the team? How will the team collaborate with other departments internally? Which technologies does the team need to own to prepare for the future? Who will the team support and how?
  • Market research will act as the social conscience of the organization. With social media currently owning many organizations’ PR agendas, it’s really easy for market research departments to be firefighting for a living, responding to each social media outburst. But the real question market research should answer is this: How damaging are these outbursts to the organization? Is the uproar about a genuine problem with the product, or just hype? In fact, in 2011 market researchers will focus on how to make sense of all the chatter that’s already happening on social networks, integrate social intelligence into their research, report these insights into the organization, and uncover major issues before these actually hit the groundswell.
  • Technology will help the market research team to build a central knowledge house. Market research departments need to start using technologies that will make it easier to analyze large amounts of data and find meaningful patterns across sources, through knowledge discovery tools such as data and text mining and analytic software. In 2011 market researchers will spend more of their time on understanding how technology can help them with their vision, mission, and values moving forward.

Other trends we're covering in the Predictions 2011: What Will Happen In Market Research report are around emerging methodologies and how they’ll gather interest with client-side market researchers (although we don’t expect them to spend much money on it yet). We also expect a new wave of DIY uptake that, because of the broad capabilities of the offerings, will support the whole organization, not just market research departments.

Do you agree? What other trends do you foresee for next year? We'd love to hear your thoughts on what will happen in 2011 in our industry.

We wish you a merry X-mas and a Happy New Year; may all your (market research) wishes come true!


I just ran this in Google

I just ran this in Google Ngrams

Curious what your thoughts are?

analytics, research, or insight

Tom, thanks for your comment.
Interesting analysis, but I've been going back and forward on its meaning (also because the methodology is a bit opaque to me)

First thing that strikes me is the relevant stability of the words marketing research. There are some ups and downs, but the trend is quite stable. Which is a good thing, I guess: we're almost as much written about as 20 years ago. Is this because marketing research is part of most studies? Are school books included in this analysis?

I'm not sure the growth of analytics can be linked to marketing. It's too vague as a term - it could just as well refer to medical, military, or economic analysis. Is this the effect of the recession for example? So, although the trend is interesting, it doesn't say much about its relationship to marketing. What would be interesting is to trend also terms as marketing insight, customer analytics, or web analytics.

Happy to discuss further,

Technology making MR relevant

Interesting post Reineke, thank you.

I've also perceived the rumblings spelling the death knell for the market research profession, and certainly it is not entirely contrived. Marketers do risk obsolescence by clinging to the status quo in both approaches, methodologies, and (lack of) technology. I was at first surprised, then frustrated, then resolved when Qualvu was dismissed early in our launch by the more entrenched 'old school' market researchers, who repeatedly informed us that there were simply no techniques nor technology that would ever replace the focus group. After all, what can you improve on a method that has gone unchanged for 60 years? ;^)

However what most intrigued me about your post was the emergence of DIY as an enabling force for change. I see both cause and effect:

1. Cause: Emerging cutting-edge online technologies render previously complex MR tasks as approachable and easy to use by client-side researchers. This allows them to do more research in-house, and importantly more valuable and relevant research as the cost and complexity of research is lowered, and they creatively apply DIY techniques in new ways to solve pressing business problems. Plus, online approaches are proving a natural convergence of cloud-based computing and online consumer audiences who've been 'brought up' on web-based interaction and feedback.

2. Effect: More empowered client-side researchers alter the role of vendor-side researchers. Vendor side researchers will be forced to adapt and hone their value proposition in order to compete in the new DIY paradigm. The great vendors will thrive as they learn to deliver value-added consulting and services to clients who have new DIY tools to utilize. Weak vendors who were able to survive based on simply providing logistical support to previously complex tasks will find that defending their relevance in the new DIY environment difficult. This natural culling of an industry (qualitative research in particular) that has become bloated and cost inefficient will be ultimately healthy, and the space will emerge stronger and more relevant than ever.

I'm excited to continue to watch the DIY evolution accelerate in 2011, and as this kind of dialogue -- now the fodder for 'predictions' posts - will become THE central theme of the industry.

Thanks again,