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Market Research

Market research in 2023 – what should we expect?

By Frédéric-Charles Petit, founder and CEO, Toluna

2022 has been another turbulent year for businesses around the world. Despite having emotionally moved on from COVID-19, the ripple effects of the pandemic continue to severely impact businesses. Between supply chain disruptions, skyrocketing inflation, political instability, and the war in Europe, it really is a time like no other in our recent history.

Confronted with major disruption after major disruption, brands have been forced to adapt to their ever-changing circumstances—continually adjusting their offering to align with what consumers want and when they want it. And it is only by understanding evolving consumer sentiment and market understanding through research—tech-driven, agile, scalable research—that businesses can truly keep their finger on the pulse.

This year, technology has continued to propel the market research industry, as automation has accelerated innovation within the sector. As we look ahead to 2023, Frédéric-Charles Petit, founder and CEO of leading consumer insights provider, Toluna, shares his thoughts on what we can expect from market research next year….

The age of curation

In 2023, we will see research become fully immersed within business processes so that marketers and researchers within an organization can easily and rapidly generate real-time, accurate insights. To enable this, the key objective will be to create a platform specifically curated for research. To create this next wave of transformation in the market research sector, it will require the strategic combination of technology, audience segmentation, the proper use of data, and the intelligence of the research expert. Only then can we properly embed research into businesses to generate agile, relevant insights at scale.

Data ownership is front and center

Some have suggested that the age of the survey data is over. Well, not quite yet. Opinion has never been more important than it is now, especially at a time when the amount of data revealing attitudes of populations is higher than ever. But understanding ‘why’ is key and asking is the only way to know. Brands will increasingly rely on research to inform their decisions on the products and services they offer. Insights will also advise them on how to market their products to audiences and communicate with them accordingly—through the right medium at the right time.

In 2023, data ownership will become paramount. And not just for regulatory reasons, but because of the power of opinions. With news about many GAFA ring-fencing the access of data, we’ll see first-party data become increasingly important to decision-making. This is where the ability to ask questions and get answers is becoming critical again. It had never ceased to be the case, but it was trendy to say it had. By combining first-party data with consumer insights, brands can understand consumer intentions, behaviors, and attitudes without needing to rely solely on third-party data. And when you combine the two, you have a much greater picture of the the consumer. And whilst automation is vital, it cannot be successful without the right data feeding into it. The powerful strategic combination of technology and data access—curated by insights experts—will prosper the most in 2023.

Accessible, agile research fuels business growth

To make research fully accessible to everyone within an organization, it must be easy to interpret and understand. Thanks to continued innovations in research technology, organizations are not only able to gather more data, but they’re also able to easily analyze it and use those insights to inform strategic business decisions. Because of these continued advancements, brands will be able to fully integrate research into their daily marketing activities.

Through agile, on-demand research that delivers easily digestible data, organizations can better understand the changing sentiments of their consumers, now, and into the future. By doing this, they’ll be able to forge stronger customer relationships and adjust their product or service offerings to better suit their customers’ needs and reinforce the health of their brand.

It’s clear that we operate in a world where strategic five-year plans are less relevant. Organizations cannot plan the same way for the long-term when instability has become the norm; they can only prepare themselves to respond to a quickly changing environment. Rapid advancements in consumer insights technology present a big opportunity to businesses during such a challenging time through the provision of accurate market understanding—quickly and at scale. Although a new year will undoubtedly bring the unexpected, what we know for certain is the power research offers to brands as a strategic tool in growth through the delivery of high-value insights in real-time. And that, more than ever, the power of understanding people’s opinions can help shape the future.

Market research in 2022: What to expect

Following a year of disruption in 2020, the seeds sown by the pandemic began to grow in 2021. Brands have recognized the need to understand constantly changing consumer behavior and sentiment, which has brought technology-driven market research and automation to the forefront.

So, what does 2022 have in store for the market research industry? What lessons can be learned from 2021, and how can these create real opportunities for consumer insights moving forward? Frederic-Charles Petit, CEO at Toluna, a tech company operating in the market research space, explains what next year will bring to the sector, including specific industry developments that will be key to progress…

Adaptation to a multi-dimensional society and individual

A key trend we’ll see in 2022 is how market research keeps pace with innovation alongside a rapidly changing, multi-dimensional society. Research will need to address the diversity in populations to truly embody being not only nationally representative, as the term is historically defined, but to capture the diversity of the ubiquitous consumer. Hyper-segmentation will become vital as research must move from simply defining key attributes of a person—such as age, social class, wealth, gender and the like—to create insights that are uniquely relevant to a consumer as an individual. Research needs to follow the complexity of society and consumer behavior so that it can deliver the information brands need to make key decisions in how they market their products and services.

Technology, driven by innovation in artificial intelligence, can capture this complexity—and market research organizations must harness this power to deliver truly agile, responsive insights about consumers that enable brands to remain relevant to their customers. That’s why, at Toluna, we’re boosting our investment in technology—which has always been at the forefront of our research platform—by 40% next year. We want to enhance our capability to continue capture the complexity of a multi-dimensional society, at scale, on demand, and in real-time to provide detailed, specific insight to brands on their consumers. We look forward to working with our clients to write this new chapter for market research.

Acceleration in the democratization of research to build and execute truly consumer-centric strategies

As we create superior ways to curate detailed and complex research on consumers, the industry must focus its efforts on the democratization of research. There’s a common misperception in that many think the democratization of research means the simplification of insights. This is not the case. When we say democratization of research, we mean making detailed data available in a simplified manner and in a seamless way to any business or any brand.

2022 will be the year to truly drive democratization because the technology is there to enable it. In the 21st century, you do not need to be a research expert to do this. The most junior members of an organization’s marketing team should be informed by easily available research that they can interact with, respecting the integrity of methodology, but at scale—and this is what we’ll see come to fruition next year. We’re currently in a situation where the everyday consumer has access to more data than, for example, a brand manager. They can simply go onto Google or ask their friends for their opinion online on whether they agree with something or what their favorite movie or outfit is. Why? Because there’s still this notion that research, in the B2B market, is for experts.

We’ve witnessed a democratization of consumer opinion and user-generated content online, but this has yet to be replicated in the business world. In 2022, as research continues to be technology-driven against the backdrop of constantly changing consumer sentiment, the industry must democratize research within the enterprise, giving marketing and brand teams the ability to access automated research at scale that can inform key decisions.

The multifaceted consumer – how market research must respond

Today’s consumer is complex and multidimensional. Real and relevant insights are no longer solely about a person’s geographic location, job role, or opinions on societal changes. It’s about understanding that a consumer can have several different “individualities.” For example, a person can be passionate about sustainable living. They might grow their own food, re-use plastic, and drive a Tesla, while, at the same time, enjoy holidaying in Barbados—which involves traveling thousands of miles via plane, one of the world’s biggest polluters.

As we move into 2022, the question becomes, ‘how can we reflect these different and complex facets of the consumer in research?’ The industry must focus on how we can give organizations the ability to capture three, four, or even five dimensions of the same individual or group of individuals. This is especially important as we move into the next generation internet—a 3D sequel to the internet called the Metaverse which has the potential to revolutionize the way we shop and the way brands market their products. How does a research company do that? It’s about delivering hyper-segmentation, hyper-personalization, at scale, and in real-time to enable brands to deeply understand and empathize with their consumer to deliver products they truly want.

 Looking ahead

There’s no doubt about it, the industry is set for profound transformation in the next year. Powered by automation and technological innovation, we’ll see market research companies change from simply asking questions to listening and participating in conversations, analyzing vast amounts of data at scale. Market research will become the medium of choice for brands to understand what their consumers are thinking, how they’re feeling, to predict their actions, and to co-create truly consumer-centric strategies with them. It won’t be just about collating data through surveys or other means but via live and continuous interaction through technologies that enable relevant and real-time consumer insights. Research must be technology-led, platform-led, and embed the intelligence of the researcher in technology through automation.

Forum Insight: Customer engagement methods to maintain strong relationships…

Now more than ever, customer communication methods are becoming varied and diverse. Trade exhibitions, social media platforms, focus groups and surveys, personalised email campaigns – the list is endless. But which methods will prove to be the most effective for your business? Before investing too much time and effort into just one, think carefully about all available options, and ask your customers how they prefer to be contacted…
Keep track of emails: Make it your personal – and even company – goal to respond to all customer emails within a five minute time frame. Not only will it generate appreciative responses, people love fast and efficient customer service, and this level of service will lead to an abundance of recommendations and increased trade. Need more convincing? View Eptica’s ‘Email Management’ article here.

Be active on social media: By now you’re probably tired of the constant emphasis on regular social media use, but inevitably, one of the best ways to connect with customers is through social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The good thing about social media is there is no time schedule to follow – you can reach customers at any time of the day. Use your company’s Facebook fan page or Twitter account to engage your followers and keep conversations flowing. Nowadays, social media has been incorporated as a form of customer service, so make your platforms adaptable for staff members to handle customer questions and complaints. Read through Conversocial’s case studies for influential insight.

Answer the phone: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! No matter what industry, a significant focus seems to be on new customer channel developments. But whatever happened to the traditional phone conversation? Whether you’re following up, apologising for something that went amiss, or wondering why you haven’t received an order in a while, there’s no better way to strengthen a customer relationship. According to eConsultancy, customers prefer assistance over the phone (61 per cent), followed by email (60 per cent); Live Chat (57 per cent); online knowledge base (51 per cent) and “click-to-call” support automation, (34 per cent).

Start a weekly blog: Why not create a weekly blog to keep your customers up-to-date? If you actively keep up a quality blog, not only will your customers read your blog, but they will respond to your blog. This creates a positive flow of communication and helps build customer loyalty. Find inspiration from these companies that have made blogging a ‘top priority’.

Conduct market research: Surveys allow businesses to identify customer needs. Once acknowledged, companies can steer their offerings towards filling these needs. Surveys are also a good tool to bring in prospective customers who are on the fence about a product/service, i.e. surveys can be used as a platform for prospective customers to voice their needs. Confused about whether to conduct quantitative or qualitative research? Learn more about the differences here.