Eliza Frascaro, Head of Research in SEUR & MEA at Toluna, explains how organisations can use real-time data to keep pace with consumer trends and save costs.
In today’s global market, technology is a key driver of business growth. Making the choice to drop traditional practices in favour of innovative new services can improve efficiencies, streamline processes, and ultimately deliver a greater competitive advantage.
Market research is no exception. Technology plays a pivotal role in tracking consumer sentiment. Marketing professionals now rely on data-driven insights to develop strategies – leveraging research technology to monitor consumer behaviour, target specific demographics or psychographics, and influence decision-making based on the information gathered. And the demand for research technology is only rising as marketers and insights professionals seek to conduct market research in a way that delivers insights quickly, easily, and accurately.
Improving insights in real time
Full-service research was once considered the Holy Grail of market research, but it can take weeks, if not months, to complete. These days consumer sentiment changes so rapidly that this type of research has become all but obsolete. In such a fast-paced environment, businesses need access to insights that match the speed of the changing landscape – and real-time insights allow them to keep pace.
The rapid advancement of research technology has not just made it possible to turn research around in a matter of days; businesses are now also able to access the findings almost immediately. Rather than waiting to analyse a thick, paper-based report, brands can now open an app and watch their survey responses ticking through in real time, getting a sense of where the findings are headed before the research is complete.
Having access to this real-time data provides invaluable insights on shifts in consumer trends. Over the past several years, we’ve seen consumer sentiment shifting and swaying in response to major events, from lockdowns and vaccinations to Black Lives Matter and COP26. Major social and political events can sway public opinion in an instant, influencing the way people shop and the individual brands they support. Monitoring research data in real time means brands are able to spot these shifts as they happen and adjust their marketing plans accordingly.
AI and machine learning
New technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have completely transformed research. These cutting-edge technologies have replaced the need for arduous manual processing, slashing data analysis from days and weeks down to mere minutes. Additionally, machine learning technologies can now analyse sentiment in open-ended questions in a way that simply wasn’t possible a decade ago. The increased speed of analysis allows marketing professionals to gain insights from larger amounts of data than ever before, making it easier to understand trends and develop strategies that drive company growth. Furthermore, because AI can process more data at a faster rate, businesses can integrate various data sources into one comprehensive strategy.
The adoption of AI in research is fast becoming the industry standard. But what’s really exciting about these technologies is where they might take research in future. When combined with machine learning technology, AI learns on the job, becoming smarter and evolving with each application. As it analyses the millions of data points that it collects, it starts to notice patterns – patterns that, one day, may give us the power to deliver predictive insights.
The rise of DIY research and the agile service model
In a tight economic climate, budget constraints are a key challenge for researchers. In fact, a recent Toluna survey – which polled marketing and insights professionals from across the globe – found that limited budgets and limited internal resources are the top two challenges they face on a day-to-day basis.
And when faced with those kinds of constraints, DIY research becomes an extremely appealing option. Today’s research technology enables marketing and insights professionals to gather and analyse their own data without needing to outsource – saving them time and money in the process. And the strength of that value proposition is underscored by the fact that nearly two-thirds of marketing and insights professionals expect to increase their use of DIY research in the next one to two years.
However, marketing and insights professionals still recognise the value of research expertise. When budget is tight, researchers need to ensure they’re collecting high-quality data to inform important business decisions. Therefore, it’s important to provide them with an agile service model in order to address their needs at any given time.
The future of research
Undoubtedly, the rapid development of technology has transformed the world of market research, giving brands the ability to keep their finger on the pulse of ever-changing consumer preferences and behaviours. Organisations are now embracing more agile ways of conducting research so they can understand consumer needs, test new product or service ideas, and make sure communications strike the right tone. It has all been made possible by tech innovation, which will only continue to transform the ways that marketing and insights professionals conduct research going forward.
Head of Research in SEUR & MEA