What makes people tick? Why do people buy what they buy? How (and why) do people choose certain products over others? These are some of the questions that lie at the foundation of the market research industry, a billion-dollar business which is centered around connecting with consumers in order to understand and capture their underlying motivations.
People are the beating heart of marketing research, they are our core resource, our fuel, our ignition. Yet, at the same time, they are also our main vulnerability. People are at the heart of our industry, but do we also have a place in their hearts?
The times when you could call a consumer and ask them a set of questions for twenty-five or thirty minutes are long over. Not only have we, as people, switched medium, also the way we connect with others has shifted. Communication has not only become shorter and more visual, but also more iterative. Yet, somehow research is failing to be on par with this new snappy and agile reality.
In the past, a researcher could simply connect with consumers by tapping into so-called consumer panels, large databases of people willing to give their opinion. Today these databases still represent the core means to connect with consumers, and why not – people still want to give their opinion. Yet not by means of long one-way questioning formats. Especially in these times when a multitude of activities are asking for our attention. The abundance of choice requires people to make choices not only in the products they use, but also in the activities they consume. Time is the only true asset, and research is at the bottom of the list when it comes to choosing an engaging activity. This causes these panels to dry out, where as a business we are over-using the one core resource we have.
As an industry, one of the key challenges for the years to come is creating a sustainable consumer connection that is in line with today’s engaging, snappy reality. Is research in that sense a dying horse? And where does the answer lie when thinking about the future of participant engagement? These are a few of the many things discussed in the first episode of our podcast.