10 Commandments of Contemporary Market Research

The world is in constant evolution… consumer behavior is evolving rapidly… but are our methods, techniques, research designs and skills evolving accordingly?
Contemporary Consumers demand for Contemporary Research Methods
Response rates in traditional research projects are in decline, as well as the good image of our work among research participants. As an answer to this trend, the market research industry wishes to move from ‘transactional’ to more ‘relational’ types of research. Researchers need to (re)bond companies with consumers (our participants) through more ‘connected’ research methodologies.
Additionally, we may state that the context in which consumers live has changed drastically during the last decade. It has affected their behavior accordingly. The contemporary consumer is:

  • Empowered – Today’s consumers are more eager to declare their opinion (even if not asked for it) and make or break brands and products on a scale never seen before. They also choose their own tools and moments to do so.
  • Cosmopolitan – Consumers’ online and offline lifes are blending, they use different multi-media interchangeably (cfr. life caching), are always on the go and create their very own ‘cocktail’ of attitudes. That’s why they have become more difficult to grasp!
  • a Co-creator – Today, consumers want to interact with marketing professionals. More than half of the Europeans want to co-create products/services with companies.
  • Emotional – For far too long, emotions and social behavior have been concealed behind closed doors and ignored in favor of rationality and efficiency (Hill, 2009). Today we are more aware of this & tapping into these dynamics has become ‘easier’ through new media (e.g. social networks & communities) and research technologies (e.g. text analytics & implicit measurement tools).

Taking into account this new reality, we are convinced that the way we do research, in terms of skills, research methods and techniques, needs to be adapted. As Kim Dedeker stated during the 2008 edition of the ARF Leadership Forum: “My call to action is that we would figure out the way to return to the consumer’s backyard. We have to rebuild that trust. We need to listen to them on their time and in the ways they want to communicate with us.”
We summarized our vision on the future in our ‘10 commandments of contemporary market research’:

  1. Conversations and stories of consumers should be at the heart of our marketing and research thinking as they are key in generating insights; and it is the main way innovations, customer experiences and marketing campaigns are being spread.
  2. Researchers need to create more opportunities for participants to say what is on their minds, even if it is not directly part of the survey or topic guide.
  3. Research should give participants a more active role throughout the whole research process not only during the interviewing phase. They like it and it will deliver us richer and better insights.
  4. Research methodologies should be adapted so they are able to grasp fragmented consumer behaviour (both over time as on the go).
  5. Methods should be combined to fusion designs in order to capture the whole picture and create a 360 degree view on the consumer (Blades, 2009).
  6. We should unveil the goals of a research project and clients should show their ‘faces’ more to research participants.
  7. Researchers should feedback intermediate results to research participants so they can influence the final outcome of the study if desired. Next to that it will motivate them to keep participating.
  8. Participants should not be asked to provide us with new information if we can obtain the same information indirectly. We should therefore recycle our data if possible. Tons of data is available on the web or in customer databases.
  9. We should stimulate rapport and trust between participants and researchers, next to bonding among peers in order to obtain higher quality data and more emotional insights.
  10. Contemporary market researchers need DJ skills. They are responsible for keeping research participants enthusiast. They need to have the ability to choose the right methods and data sources and throw them in the right mix. Last but not least, they need to perform well in the boardroom by playing the most relevant tunes to management.

Want to find out more? Read our white papers or Steven Van Belleghem‘s book The Conversation Manager. Or contact one of the authors.
(Article submitted by Annelies Verhaeghe and Tom De Ruyck)

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