Future of Market Research: Insight from Tom H. C. Anderson

Unless you have been hiding under a rock and missed the memo, it’s no surprise that market research is evolving from focus groups and field research to more technology-driven solutions.

What is the future of market research? Over the next few months, we are planning to investigate this question by interviewing thought-leaders of market research in a series of blog posts. This week, we talked with Tom H. C. Anderson, who is often referred to as the “Uncrowned Father of Web 3.0 Marketing Research”. Tom established the Next Gen Market Research (NGMR) LinkedIn Group that hosts nearly 24000 members, is a frequent blogger on Next Gen Market Research blog, and is the Founder and CEO of Anderson Analytics & OdinText, text analytics and data mining software companies. The below is a paraphrased summary from an interview with Tom.

market research

Increased sharing of data between company departments

Traditionally speaking, a marketing research agency would create a concept test for their client, conduct some field research using pen and paper, usually in the form of a focus group, input this data into a computer for analysis, and then present their findings to their client.

The problem about this traditional process is that market research departments operated independently to IT departments. With more and more talk about big data, company departments are starting to feel more comfortable with sharing data silos to other departments. Data is regarded as being more valuable, which is helping to create more interesting and larger data sets using data mining.

Market researchers are becoming data scientists

In the past, you would have had to be a data scientist to look at big data using data mining. Now, with the right software, somebody with marketing research and analytical skills can very easily manipulate large amounts of structured and unstructured data. With increased sharing of data across all departments, data mining will become an integral part of market research in the future. The challenge now is for traditional market researchers to embrace new techniques.

Survey data is only one tier of market research data

Surveys play an integral role in market research for information gathering, but surveys should not be treated in isolation. Data being shared among departments will become more prevalent in the next coming years that will give market researchers a better image of the market. As you can imagine, combining half a million surveys per year with actual information on those customers sourced from previous customer interactions from customer service departments, social media interactions, etc., the action-ability of this information increases.

Some data sources are complementary

Text Analytics can source data from across your organization

“With text analytics, you don’t have to sample, you can rip into 1 million comments and get to understand what’s being discussed very quickly. With data mining software, you can source data from across your organization. The best data sources are already being collected by the companies, whether it is large-scale customer satisfaction or loyalty trackers, or these customer service telephone logs and emails. And then there is a host of other areas, of course. We have some clients using our software to analyze newspapers, and articles coming out on their clients and their competitors.”

Social Media Monitoring

“When it comes to social media data, all that data basically comes from one company called GNIP, there are a couple others like DataSift and so forth. But, that said, just about any social media monitoring company that I’ve heard of are still paying for the data from that one retailer, GNIP.”

Surveys will be used to explore missing pieces from other data sources

Obviously, there is going to be missing pieces from any data source. Surveys have always been and will continue to be a way to explore those missing pieces to help build better models or decide what other information to collect. And, within those surveys, the most important part in helping you understand what’s missing from your model or understanding of what’s going on.

Conclusion – Integrated Research Methodologies

The choice of research methodology obviously depends on establishing your research objectives first, then collecting the data, then choosing the best approach and tool. The point here is to not rely on one research technique, but to integrate the best tools to conduct better research.

What has your experience been with new market research tactics? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

David Wogan
David Wogan was an Online Marketing Specialist at QuickTapSurvey in 2014. Have a story idea? Email us at marketing@quicktapsurvey.com