What market research trends should you expect to see in 2022? What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on market research and how it is conducted?
This blog post shares different perspectives on these key issues from a wide variety of market research professionals in the field. Check out the quotes below to find out more about what the future may hold for market researchers and the industry overall.
Brian Clayson, Director of Custom Research, The Freedonia Group
Within the custom research business, I expect to see a continued need for greater granularity being influenced by uncertainty in supply chains and inflation pressures. There is also a need for continued refining of client datasets and testing assumptions that may have changed over the last 18-24 months that were fairly consistent in the past.
Kristin Luck, Founder, ScaleHouse
First, researchers will need to (in the words of ESOMAR Congress 2019 keynote Chris Burggraeve), start thinking like a CFO, and presenting like a CMO. Insights pro’s need to think like big consulting, if that’s who we intend on unseating, and adopt more holistic strategies that drive business performance rather than focusing on project-by-project issues. Secondly, I’m hopeful that more firms will move from an “office first” to a “remote first” mentality. We are living in a time where, as knowledge workers, we have unparalleled access to global talent. “Remote first” practices ensure you’re not only hiring the best talent but also the most diverse—which has been shown time and time again to drive innovation and increased profitability.
Anne E. Beall, CEO, Beall Research, Inc.
We’re seeing an increased interest in the role that emotions play in purchasing. We’ve increasingly been told by companies that they want to connect with their customers emotionally and to create a strong bond that will lead to greater loyalty and purchasing. The pandemic appeared to have made many marketers aware of the raw emotions that drive much of our consumer behavior.
Ray Poynter, Chief Research Officer, Potentiate
2022? More of 2021—more mergers and acquisitions, more non-researchers conducting research, and more non-researchers interpreting and using research—with the key enabler being platforms. Usage will favour simple solutions over complex solutions, usage will favour whole solutions (e.g. a concept test), rather than a clever method (e.g. facial coding). Most AI will still be a cross between “proof of concept” and hype, but everyday useful products will be rare.
Kathryn Korostoff, President, Research Rockstar Training & Staffing
I see several themes, but the big four for me are as follows:
- Back to basics, fixing data quality issues: Increased emphasis and investment on improving survey data quality, especially sampling aspects.
- My researcher, my data consultant: The successful researcher can be expected to recommend methodologies that blend or leverage data from various sources.
- Automation, when it makes sense: Automation frees up the professional researcher to focus their brain power on the value-add steps so critical to research success.
- Remote work, remote collaboration: Many team members are being given WFH or hybrid options. And so far, the signs point to many professionals opting out of full-time, in-office work
Joe Newsum, Founder, Kentley Insights
The pandemic has massively disrupted supply chains, fueled inflation, changed our workforce, and transformed the foundations of many industries. As we look towards 2022, it will be critical to have insightful and timely market research to understand how these disruptions will impact your industry. In particular, it will be important to understand growth rates, inflation, operating costs, profitability, competitive dynamics, inventory levels, and compensation trends.
Bob Lederer, Consultant, Producer & Editor, RFL Communications, Incorporated
2022 will be one of the more complex that the market research, insights, and analytics industries will have ever faced. Marketers and their corporate bosses need to cover a lot of possibilities. Assume COVID will no longer dominate the environment. But if that is to be the case, MR, insights, and analytics functions will be busy covering a plethora of possibilities. The country and world won’t be anything like the giddy pre-COVID world of 2020. Marketers need to be on the mark for the almost- or fully post-COVID environment. How’d you like to be Campbell Soup: a roaring giant during COVID and filled with marketing questions about how to maintain its 2020-2021 gains when it is over?
Michael D. Lieberman, Founder, Multivariate Solutions
I believe 2022 will be the year that the marketing research industry expands into the data strategy business. Companies store fields of data within their silos—large retailers like Kroger’s and Walmart are already selling access to their data. They would like to refine that data into either an actionable predictive model or a commercial product. I believe they will turn to analytics translators, quantitative professionals now working in marketing research, to accomplish this.
Pamela Danziger, Owner, Unity Marketing
Nothing beats qualitative, person-to-person research for understanding the underlying psychology and motivations of consumers. Big data can provide the basics—who the customer is, what and how they are buying—but you’re still left inferring the why’s behind consumers’ purchases. Qualitative research bridges the gap. Understanding the whys behind consumer behavior is the most important insight to have for long-range strategic, product, and market planning and trend predictions. Consumer behavior can and does change on a dime, but the motivations that underlie consumer behavior are stable over time. If you want to chart a path to the future, qualitative research is your roadmap.
Jack Plunkett, CEO, Plunkett Research, Ltd.
Thanks to COVID, the greatest research need for the near-term is better insights into how market needs, customer desires, and consumer perceptions about the future have changed, both B2B and B2C. The mid-pandemic world of today continues to evolve quickly on its path to an eventual post-pandemic era—that era may look surprisingly different in some respects, while returning to traditional patterns in other ways. This presents an exciting challenge for market research providers and their clients. For example, Plunkett Research will be busy forecasting 6-year growth rates for specific industries for our Industry Analytics reports. Another big focus at Plunkett will be evaluating post-pandemic technology demand in terms of better cybersecurity, online payments, and digital transactions in general.
Lisa W. Miller, President, Lisa W. Miller & Associates, LLC
Demand for marketing research is at an all-time high as companies seek to drive growth on the other side of the pandemic. However, just like there’s a supply chain issue in chicken wings, we have a supply chain issue in marketing research. Finding qualified panelists is a challenge and will remain a challenge in 2022. Companies need to be judicious in their sampling strategies as to not burn through all the panelists.
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
Whatever we thought we knew or understood before COVID about our customers/market must now be checked because the world has changed so much since last March. The two biggest trends I see expanding are:
- Social listening—Because we spend so much time on social media, it is becoming more important to listen to online conversations to derive sentiments. Social media is highly emotive so there is more context on the source of ideas, complaints, purchase behavior, and macro/micro trends. Using social listening, you can isolate the data you care about and watch for short-term indicators around consumer research to help identify actionable opportunities early.
- Online qualitative research—With limitations on in-person focus groups and other qualitative research methods due to the pandemic, having the ability to moderate video discussions while collecting data from a diverse audience is no longer limited by geographical boundaries which is a huge advantage.
Kajoli Tankha, Senior Director, Consumer Product, Retail, and Growth, Microsoft
Companies that know how to use experimental design in research will be more successful.