Consumer and Market Research Predictions for 2023
Harvey Rañola |
 01/06/23 |
10 min read

Consumer and Market Research Predictions for 2023

The fireworks’ smoke has cleared, and it’s time to usher in a new year. For many brands, it’s a chance to do things bigger and better. For some, it’s time to review lessons learned from mistakes, while others are starting for the first time. We have predictions to share that will impact everyone, regardless of the stage you’re in!

Predicting what will happen is much better than jumping with both eyes closed. So, let us look at some of the consumer and market research predictions hoping they will put you in a winning position.

1. In-House Market Research

Faced with the heavy demands of the current business environment, brands have had to weigh between hiring external marketing agencies and bringing the process in-house. It’s a serious decision, but of late, the odds have favored in-house over outsourced.

Nevertheless, it’s not an easy prediction to make. On the one hand, marketing agencies are famous for their specialty, diverse skill set, and, sometimes, affordability. But, on the other hand, the trends suggest a shift towards in-house market research – which is interesting to note.

Since 2013, brands have increasingly turned to their internal teams for consumer and market research. One of the earliest predictors of the shift was a 2013 report by The Association of National Advertisers, which saw cost as the primary motivation for brands to turn inwards.

Later, in 2015, Harvard Business Review cited a Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) study that discovered a “dramatic spike” in in-house-oriented brands, terming it as “alarming.” The trend remains alarming as brands of all sizes continue to cut ties with marketing agencies.

For instance, P&G has reportedly reduced its agency relationships by up to 60% since 2015. Moreover, according to SurveyMonkey, more than 50% of market researchers expect their use of full-service external agencies to decline, and 70% are “somewhat” to “very likely” to use DIY tools in 2023.

There are many reasons why companies are choosing to bear the high initial cost of setting up in-house consumer and market research systems. Most notable is the need for speed in insight gathering.

The fast pace of the market demands that brands obtain and act on insights quickly. Therefore, the stress is on real-time insight gathering where the goings-on are prominently displayed on a powerful dashboard. This allows adequate time to analyze, interpret, and decide based on current information.

Secondly, with advancements in consumer and market research technology, outsourcing is losing its cost advantage. While technical expertise might have been a selling point a decade ago, today, brands have access to easy-to-use tools and 24/7 customer support.

Furthermore, the long-term costs in time and money are much lower for brands that use in-house consumer and market research than those that outsource. The cost of missed opportunities – which can result from the slow pace of agencies dealing with multiple clients – is incalculable.

Third, consumer and market research is no longer done on a project basis but continuously. This is what is referred to as longitudinal research.

Longitudinal research constantly observes the market and the consumer, as it is the only way to keep up. As brands shun campaigns for continuity in marketing, ongoing consumer and market research offers more benefits. Advanced techniques such as media monitoring and NLP sentiment analysis come in handy.

Sample Tweet with analysis

Perhaps the strongest objection to agency-led market research is that customer relationships can’t (or shouldn’t) be outsourced. In addition, companies prefer to own their data rather than have it handed out piecemeal by the agencies.

Brands must invest in modern tools, techniques, and teams to take full advantage of in-house consumer and market research. This means using AI-based consumer and market intelligence platforms, implementing customer relationship management techniques, and keeping individuals on the same page with a single source of truth.

2. Mobile-First Research

Internet-based consumer and market research is a standard with modern organizations. It is fast and effective and offers a large sample, with more than 60% of the world’s population. This has transformed traditional techniques such as surveys, ethnography, and focus groups into their modern versions: Online surveys, netnography, and online focus groups.

netnography

Now another shift is happening: Mobile-based research. According to one study, 33% of online surveys done towards the end of 2018 were started on mobile, i.e., before the pandemic. In comparison, this number was less than 10% in 2013, way less.

It’s estimated that in 2020 up to 68% of website visits came from mobile devices – about five percent more than the previous year:

chart showing desktop and mobile options

At that time, the popularity of mobile-based research would have soared. Yet only 60% of researchers are taking advantage of the trend.

The reason? The survey completion rate is low due to poor user experience and the length of the exercise. However, one company has achieved a 40% higher completion rate than non-mobile online surveys. Is this a sign of things to come?

Mobile-first research could play a much more significant role in 2023 and beyond if the process is optimized for the user.

Mobile-based research is solving emerging problems that would otherwise cause an industry-wide migraine. Specifically, how do you uncover and address the issues of a generation that wants to be heard yet won’t participate in research? Yep, that’s Gen Z., But some companies have found a workaround.

Realizing how difficult or costly it can be to reach Gen Z the old-fashioned way (email), the solution has been to reach out via text or another mobile-based channel. But the trick isn’t done. The research is designed to be conversational rather than a test requiring answers.

This makes it easy, fun, and immersive. The result is up to seven times more detailed information on open-ended questions and much deeper insights than the commonplace online study.

Of course, this can be applied successfully to other generations as well – Millennials practically invented the art of being attached to your phone, and Zoomers just perfected it.

An offshoot of the mobile-first research trend is video-based research. Three years ago, this was uncharted territory for many researchers. However, thanks to COVID-19 (a phrase we don’t use often), video is quickly becoming an essential platform for many.

Compared to pre-pandemic, more than 90% of researchers use video more often for online focus groups and interviews. This is because respondents are more comfortable being on camera than they were three years ago.

Additionally, consumers are more willing to create video content, including submissions and other user-generated formats. It’s a boon for researchers who have found that they can gain more insight through video than text.

Case in point, Del Taco recently launched a video feedback initiative that allowed it to understand customer reactions to menu changes from 10 hours of video.

animated character looking at three computer screens and showing heart shaped emotions

In the past, gathering insights from video and other unstructured mobile-based data was futile. However, advances in data analytics have become the preferred source of data for consumer and market research. Using AI, modern tools can analyze natural human speech to deliver insights quickly and at scale.

3. Automation Leads Agile Research

Today, researchers need to be ready to shift their focus and objectives at a moment’s notice, and with automated platforms, they can do so with agility. Having full access to the platform and data sources, they can quickly add to the process – whether that means including emerging questions in a survey or offering respondents more options – without lengthy consultations.

With automated consumer and market research, researchers can gather insights quicker and be confident that they have more accurate results than if most of the work was done by humans. Ultimately, the research process becomes more efficient and productive.

That is why we see automation playing a much more significant role in consumer and market research as we advance into this decade. Brands will increasingly turn to the approach that relieves them of the tedious tasks of sifting through files, sampling, cleaning the data, analyzing, and eventually creating reports. Not to mention having to rely on others – opening the process up to human eye oversights.

While researchers have employed automation in various ways in the past, with the capabilities of AI-based platforms, the range of automated research is significantly broadened. From the research design to survey programming to sampling, data collection, analysis, and reporting, end-to-end research platforms have these features built into them at the foundation.

This covers the diverse needs of the modern consumer and market research process. In particular, survey routing – the process of tailoring a survey to individual respondents – otherwise difficult, is effortless to do with automation. In addition, AI-based platforms do not require complex logic statements to steer the process.

Automation also makes it easy to identify suitable respondents for a study and collect the necessary information from them. In addition, automated data cleaners, built into the platform, can filter out potential respondents accurately and prepare them for the examination.

This eliminates the previous need to manually confirm the data and constant communication with other organization members, which causes delays. With this capability, brands can obtain customer data anytime, from various sources, and on any connected device.

After the data is collected, researchers no longer need to send it to other teams for processing and validating before embarking on its analysis. Instead, machine learning (ML) systems are equipped to combine vast amounts of data, categorize them, analyze the mass, and chop it up as required by the brand.

Decision-makers are interested in the insights. Therefore, automated reporting is the crowning of the process. AI-backed research platforms will come with a powerful dashboard for data viewing. Still, they will also be able to bring the data to life with beautiful visualizations that are not only automatically generated but also fully customizable.

4. Embracing DEI in Research

Consumer and market research has always insisted on creating samples that mirror the general population. However, over the recent past, there has been a rethinking (or improvement in the thinking) of what a representative sample looks like. And the answer is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

In the not-so-distant past, we have seen notable brands like PepsiCo, Dove, and H&M make some rookie mistakes with their advertising. However, we have also seen them apologize, and some, like H&M, go a step further to create “diversity departments” to clean up.

But where does the blunder happen? Things don’t go wrong; they start wrong at the research phase. Before launching their campaigns, brands conduct market research to know the messages that will have the most significant impact. When it goes wrong, we have to assume that the assignment wasn’t correctly done—and you need to know about this right away.

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PepsiCo, in particular, has “missed the mark” twice recently with the Kendall Jenner and Mountain Dew controversies. Both involved ads that were widely viewed as insensitive to specific groups of people, which might have been avoided with DEI-focused research.

So, what exactly does DEI bring to consumer and market research that wasn’t there before? For starters, it’s about embracing societal differences, including but not limited to ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, and socioeconomic status.

According to ThinkNow co-founder Mario Carrasco, diversity represents different perspectives, while inclusivity further engages those perspectives. He adds, “An inclusive research approach relies on a diverse sample of respondents and employs cultural understanding to provide psychological safety for them.” This, he says, enhances openness and honesty in research.

Thus, while DEI helps satisfy the needs of the study internally, it is also about making sure that the voices of all groups within the target market are heard.

It allows consumer and market research to play a crucial role in highlighting the dynamics of modern society while appealing to the masses through marketing messages or new products.

In Pharma, where DEI can be a matter of life and death, research organizations like ICON and Novartis lead the charge. These organizations can select diverse samples using advanced techniques such as social listening and sentiment analysis.

It’s critical for healthcare organizations whose solutions have a much more significant impact on the life of individuals. However, other industries shouldn’t be left behind any longer. Already 80% of researchers are interested in learning about the best practices for DEI-led research.

5. Continued Push for Customer Loyalty

In 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic raged on, brand loyalty was gasping for air. Forced to adopt new habits, many customers had to abandon brands they were previously loyal to. Either the latter didn’t provide the convenience of online shopping, or their offerings weren’t good enough for the lean times.

McKinsey reported that 75% of consumers tried new shopping behaviors. Even when things eased up a bit, allowing them to return to their previous habits, most seemed content with the new normal. This hasn’t changed.

McKinsey estimates that 70 – 80% of consumers intend to continue with the new labels, brands, and retailers. So what seemed like the death of customer loyalty amid the chaos has turned out to be brand realignment. Consumers have abandoned old shopping habits but not brand loyalty.

This is good news for brands. Customer acquisition remains one of the most expensive for companies across all industries, and customer retention is still lucrative. The winners are those that capture customers as they wander, looking for a place to settle.

Currently, the push is towards acquiring and keeping customers through competitive offers, quality products, and a great customer experience. Forrester reveals that companies are investing more and more in this, with customer retention budgets growing by 30% in 2021.

To succeed in customer acquisition and retention efforts, brands must understand customer behavior. Why do customers switch? Is it just about them seeking novelty, or are there new players who are more convincing?

Through consumer and market research, these and more questions can be answered, and the insights leveraged to achieve success.

crosstabs of quick serve company attributes

By developing customer relationships, brands can get closer to the truth and ask the burning questions through online surveys and interviews, video-based focus groups, social listening, media monitoring, and other techniques.

This will require investment in advanced consumer and market research solutions.

Make Your Predictions

Moving forward, brands will apply consumer and market research to predict their target markets, including their customers and competitors.

AI-powered predictive analytics can keep you ahead of the curve so that you can anticipate impending shifts and trends. But, just as significantly, it can help you avoid the many pitfalls awaiting floundering brands in the form of fads and market noise.

This depends on your ability to collect, combine, and holistically analyze diverse data sources, including your internal data, mainstream media, social media, user-generated content, company, and patent data.

I am separating signal from noise through NetBase Quid Intelligence Connector.

NetBase Quid’s Intelligence Connector covers all your business intelligence needs allowing you a real-time view of your field. Some everyday use cases for the tool include trend detection, cohort targeting, and tech scouting. Visit the site to learn more.

If you’d like to see the full range of NetBase Quid’s tools and features deployed for your brand, reach out for a demo today.

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