By Michalis Michael
In the January 2015 edition of Research World – the ESOMAR monthly magazine – there is an article that I co-authored with Dimitris A. Mavros, the Managing Director of MRB Hellas, the third largest Market Research agency in Greece. The article is about the impact of the digital era on traditional market research agencies; our premise is that if they remain traditional, the impact will not be good!
Here are our 10 predictions about the future of the market research industry:
- The traditional market research agencies that refuse to change will go out of business
- DIY market research will catch on even more and will democratise our sector
- Social listening analytics will be a must-have for every marketing and market research manager
- Agile research will become mainstream and will be facilitated by online communities
- Micro surveys and intercepts will eventually replace long monthly customer tracking studies
- Processing behavioural data in motion and delivering real-time micro insights will be a core competence of any insights expert agency
- Adjacent marketing services such as customer engagement, enterprise feedback management, customer advocacy, will become solutions offered by the market research companies of the future
- Data scientists will be the new insight experts, utilising a lot more predictive analytics than rear-view mirror analytics
- The code of conduct of market research associations such as ESOMAR and MRS will be revised as it does not apply to the digital economy. If not, the new breed of MR agencies will refuse to be members of such archaic organisations, and the latter will die out
- Nielsen will no longer be the largest market research company in the world
The above table from GRIT Winter 2014 more or less confirms some of our predictions; the source of this data is market research agencies and end clients of market research. The social media analytics is interesting because 47% of end clients claim to be using it whilst only 34% of the agencies claim the same. This could mean that other technology companies are being used by the end clients that are not market research suppliers.
I would be very interested to start a conversation with colleagues who have an opinion on the matter. As a company, DigitalMR holds the above positions since 2010, when it was established; in 4 years we did not have to change our minds on any of them, if anything, we see social traction confirming those positions. I am sure there will be more than two opposing views and maybe we can define different narratives and segments of us.
The bottom line is: change or perish. If you are a traditional agency it is not too late. A good first step will be to include in your solutions portfolio: social media listening and online communities. DigitalMR is looking for selected market research agencies to be its partners in certain countries and industry sectors. Please do get in touch, if nothing else, we can have a pleasant chat about the future of market research or have coffee if you are visiting London.