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A Patch, A Niche, A Disruptor & Something Over The Horizon

Looking over the horizon. (Image from ad.)


By Ray Poynter

I have just posted a white paper and video presentation on the VCU website that looks at key disruptors for the MR industry. However, in this post I wanted to share with you one of each of the patches, niches, disruptors, and over the horizon items covered in the white paper and video.


Patches are things that I think will help us keep conducting market research in the current way until the next generation of tools are ready. One of my four patches is Gamification. Gamification will enable us to hold people’s attention a bit longer, enable us to reach a slightly wider range of people, and will help extend the life of surveys and traditional research processes. This may not sound exciting, but actually, for the MR industry, it is vital, since the new tools are not yet ready to replace the established ways


Niches are useful approaches that will never become a major share of market research turnover. In most cases niches are niches because either their role is too narrow, or because they are not scalable. Neuroscience is one of the niches I write about in the white paper. It only tackles a narrow range of problems (mostly the responses to stimuli) and it is not likely to be scalable in the foreseeable future.


Disruptors are things that really change an industry, for example, in the way that steam revolutionized engineering and transport. In the video I talk about four of these, but here I will mention just text analytics. Text analytics is coming of age. In 2014 it will start to change the way MR does business, shifting the focus to qual, shifting it to text, and away from closed questions. It will also facilitate shorter surveys, something we have all been looking for.

Over the Horizon

There are lots of changes and ideas bubbling away over the horizon, and I describe four of these in the white paper and video. One the developments, that I think is five or more years away from being a disruptor, is Big Data. I think there will be some short-term wins, but I think it will be five or more years before Big Data will make its major impact on MR – for a more negative view see

Your thoughts?

What Patch, Niche, Disruptor, or item over the horizon would you suggest?

You can download the white paper or watch the video by visiting

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5 responses to “A Patch, A Niche, A Disruptor & Something Over The Horizon

  1. I just read your paper and it’s a great summary of the state of the industry. I do think pulse type communities are a big part of the future of MR as is behavioral data. I still think there has to be a bigger carrot for the participants, not in terms of financial gain but rather an emotional value to the participation. I think the enjoining crowd sourcing with community objectives might be one way to provide some intrinsic value to participants; particularly if they actually see the results come to life.

  2. Ray – bet you never thought you’d hear me say this, but I agree with you. Probably because our 4D Shopper virtual reality system, in use since the early 90s is gamification, is a niche product, was disruptive (replacing shelf tests in halls/malls), and, at the time, was over the horizon. Also agree that Big Data is not the disruptor that its proponents think it will be – the topic of my upcoming ESOMAR presentation.

  3. Ray, even your taxonomy isn’t perfectly clear for me, I agree that no harm should be expected from the development of big data. On the cintrary, it will provide more intruiguing relations that somebody (we researchers, predictably) should explain. Big data will be unbeatable in explaining what has happened, i.e. telling everithing about the past. But nobody could have an idea about the future without some interpretation and a sound theory. Again: our job. Best regards

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