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Trends in consumer insights: Market research predictions for 2020

Kelvin Claveria
Kelvin Claveria (@kcclaveria)..

There’s a new generation of insight leaders who are hungry for the next big thing.

The beginning of the new year (and new decade!) promises to bring big changes and disruption to the market research industry. Curious about the technologies and trends that will shape consumer insights in 2020? We curated some of the most interesting expert predictions below.  

Reinventing the CMO role 

Ok, this one is not necessarily about market research, but it’s tangentially relevant given that many insight teams report to heads of marketing. Forrester is predicting that the role of the chief marketing officer (CMO) will be put to test in the next year.   

Keith Johnston, vice president at Forrester, says that “2020 marks the beginning of a final, desperate fight for CMO relevance.” That prediction may sound a big over-dramatic, but it’s not surprising as the CMO role has taken a beating in 2019. For example, companies such as McDonald’s, Uber and Johnson & Johnson have recently eliminated this role. The CMO tenure is also getting shorter in many industries.  

Forrester’s advice for marketing leaders who want to keep their jobs longer? Expand.  

The CMO must establish control that extends beyond marketing, because you simply can’t build, express, sell, communicate, connect, or service today’s brands without continuity in the budget or authority,” Johnston explains.  

2020 marks the beginning of a final, desperate fight for CMO relevance.

The CMO’s evolution will have downstream effects on the day-to-day of market researchers. More pressure means CMOs will demand more data and insights about customers more than ever. Insight teams need to embrace iterative, agile research to keep up with the demands of the business 

Addressing global uncertainty  

As global politics become more uncertain, market research will need to double down on trust. That’s according to Eileen Campbell, chair and co-founder of our parent company Reid Campbell Group, who believes that the 2020 US election, Brexit and populist movements around the world will loom large in the new year.   

As an industry, we'll have to work harder than ever to overcome distrust.

Unfortunately, all of these will be fueled by disinformation and digital propaganda campaigns that risk leaving the public skeptical at best and cynical and disengaged and at worst,” explains Eileen. “As an industry, we'll have to work harder than ever to overcome distrust.”  

Transparency, security and compliance will be more crucial than ever. “Trust is the currency of our industry—trust that we are using data and insights as a force for good to improve products and services and, ultimately, people's lives,” Eileen says.  

Finding an antidote to survey overload  

“I can’t wait to get another survey in my email” said no one EVER!  

Thirsty for a real understanding of consumer behaviors, attitudes and preferences, companies are sending an overwhelming number of surveys every day. Many customers, unfortunately, are not on board with this approach. The problem isn’t just about the number of survey invitations that people receive—it also has to do with the experience people have when participating in surveys 

Too long. Too boring. Too impersonal. Traditional surveys are anything but fun.  

Forrester is predicting that many companies will take significant action to address survey overload in the year ahead. The consulting firm says more than one-third of firms will “go beyond surveys” to capture experience data 

“Firms drown their customers in survey requests to gain insights into experience quality,” explains Gene Leganza, vice president at Forrester. “Many customers submit themselves to this process, hoping for better experiences. But firms have rewarded these customers poorly: Customer experiences haven’t gotten better for three years.” 

Leganza is predicting a big backlash against traditional surveys, saying, “the portion of firms that go beyond surveys will increase.” 

Everything about chats—the UX design, the distribution channels and the language used—are optimized for the mobile web. 

At Rival, we’re not necessarily predicting the death of surveys, but we think it’s time to rethink the traditional approach to this important tool. Our solution is what we’re calling conversational surveys—or simply “chats.” Created for mobile-first users, chats turn the traditional survey experience on its head and re-imagines it for the messaging era. With chats, you can still capture both quantitative and qualitative data (and do everything you need to do as a market researcher), but you’re not boring participants with a long, cumbersome experience.  

Everything about chats—the UX design, the distribution channels and the language used—are optimized for the mobile web. A research-on-research study showed that 93% of research participants felt that chats were more enjoyable than traditional surveys. Market research purists would be happy to know that this improvement in the respondent experience didn’t result to any weird demographic skews.   

Not familiar with conversational surveys or chats? Give one a quick try by 👉 clicking here. 👈 

Addressing data bloat  

It’s not just survey overload that market researchers need to find an antidote for. Mike Stevens, founder of Insight Platforms, says the industry also needs to address the growing “data bloat” problem. Many companies today don’t really lack data (they have plenty of it!); what they lack is real insights and the ability to execute meaningful changes based on customer feedback.  

Insight teams are struggling to reconcile so many conflicting signals about customersfrom sales data, digital traffic, location analytics, surveys, syndicated panels,” Mike explains.   

As a result of this data bloat, Mike predicts that more client-side researchers will demand more storytelling capabilities from vendors.  

Using videos to create virality and customer empathy  

One prediction from Andrew Reid, our CEO and founder at Rival Technologies, complements Mike’s. Andrew agrees that researchers need to lean on storytelling to capture the attention of decision-makers.   

“It’s interesting because while C-level execs are certainly interested in numbers, there’s nothing quite like seeing the faces of your customers,” Andrew says. “More insight pros will invest in approaches that allow them to capture videos from customers at scale. I see researchers using video content to create customer empathy and drive virality for insights within their organization.” 

While C-level execs are certainly interested in numbers, there’s nothing quite like seeing the faces of your customers.

You may be wondering: Are research participants actually willing to share videos? Based on our experience, the answer is a resounding yes. Smartphones make it super easy for people to share videos via mobile surveys. If you’d like a case study on this, we recommend checking out how REVOLT TV & Media (Sean Comb’s cable network) used chats to get more than 500 images and videos for its signature event.  

Testing new innovations  

Compared to their colleagues in marketing, market researchers tend to be more risk-averse. There’s a lot of innovation happening in insights, but the adoption of new market research software and platforms isn't happening as quickly as it should.   

Will the new decade inspire research teams to take more risks? Andrew thinks so. “The most widely accepted technologies in our industry today have been developed in the 2000s; now there’s a new generation of insight leaders who are hungry for the next big thing,” he explains.  

This doesn’t mean companies will bring new insight platforms without seriously considering the consequences. As a data-driven organization, insight teams will do their due diligence to make sure that new market research technologies are producing trustworthy data.   

The adoption of new market research software and platforms isn't happening as quickly as it should.

Andrew explains, “I see more researchers making the investment in doing parallel studies to test the effectiveness of bleeding-edge technologies. This is a good thing for our industry as it will drive innovation while making sure we’re still providing credible data to those who need it.”  

Engaging consumers on their terms  

In 2019, we saw a team of innovative early innovators embracing a more conversational approach to capturing insights—a trend that, according to Reach3 CEO Matt Kleinschmit, will continue in 2020.  

“Marketers will discover that as important as big data, algorithms and predictive analytics can be in optimizing how they market to their customers, it is equally (if not more) important to engage consumers on their terms in more human, conversational ways,” he says. “Common research techniques such as long, email-based surveys that feel to consumers like they are taking a test will give way to more natural, immersive research approaches that provide in-the-moment engagement, more immersive qual and quant inputs and ultimately, deeper, richer and more human insights. 

For more on Matt’s take on the current state of the industry, check out his ebook The Future of Insights is Conversational.   

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