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Has Market Research Waited Too Long (To Evolve)?

I've written before about the impact that DIY platforms, emerging integrated business intelligence technology, insight-driven brand consultancies, and other new supplier types that thrive on collecting and analyzing data from multiple channels are having on the MR space.

It’s always interesting to observe how my brain indexes and cross references information. I seem to have my own “tagging system” for sensory input, often audio based. So, if I am reading something that strikes a chord what usually happens is that a line from a song or dialogue from a movie or TV show will pop into my head, creating a reference point for whatever I am reading. It makes for some interesting connections, or in this case (hopefully) an interesting blog post.

Growing up as a child of the ’80s with a decided rebellious streak, I naturally gravitated towards “alternative” music (so my audio tags can be a little strange!), and one of my favorite bands was The Smiths, and one of my favorite songs by that seminal group was the gloriously gloomy epic “How Soon Is Now?”. In case you haven’t heard it and because it’s good karma to share, here is the original video for the song:

Now, this isn’t a treatise on my bizarre mental processes or a music review, so why am I sharing this with you? Well, besides the fact that I thought it would be a fun intro to this post and would explain the title, here is the connection: amidst all of the angst of Morrissey singing and the hypnotic oscillating guitar by Johnny Marr there is a line in the song that goes “See, I’ve already waited too long, and all my hope is gone.”. This became a “tag” for me this week as I was checking out the latest developments of a start-up I have been following; all my hope may not be gone for market research to adapt to the new realities of the 21st century, but the stakes were just raised significantly. Meet Decooda.

Decooda is not focused on a narrow sliver of the brand marketers’ challenge, nor are we leveraging pedestrian technology to solve complex solutions. Our focus is simple – we leverage our experience along with industry-leading, patented technology to monitor social media and enterprise communications across all channels in real time. We measure and analyze marketing effectiveness to identify specifically what influencers, messages, tactics, campaigns, or other market-driven events are moving the needle. These measures provide insights into why, when, where, what, and with whom to engage, and how much to spend…in order to get ahead and stay ahead of the competition.

The power of the Decooda platform comes from the robustness of our semantic social media listening solution and our marketing mix analysis solution, it is the combination of these solutions that guarantee Decooda can accelerate the time it takes to help our clients to achieve fact based performance measurements that enable marketers to justify and defend budget positions with facts, dynamically reallocate investments to higher performing tactics and campaigns, ultimately giving executive management the confidence it needs to know that client engagement and marketing promotion mix investments have been optimized.

I met the CEO of Decooda, David Johnson, last year during their development stage and we explored potential synergies between what they were working on and one of my ventures. We had some great conversations but we never struck a deal, although we agreed to stay in touch. I knew they were doing some interesting work with integrating text analytics into CRM and business intelligence platforms, however the full scope of what they were doing wasn’t apparent to me until now.

I’ve written before about the impact that DIY platforms, emerging integrated business intelligence technology, insight-driven brand consultancies, and other new supplier types that thrive on collecting and analyzing data from multiple channels are having on the market research space. Examples of this trend include companies like Alterian, Clarabridge, CivicScience, and a host of others. These rapidly developing new entrants to the space are creating whole new value models  that are a direct challenge to traditional market research firms. Decooda represents the next evolution of this new paradigm; a technology driven offering that directly ties in multi-channel data collection and analysis and combines it with market simulations, marketing mix analysis, and predictive modeling to give marketing organizations real-time, actionable, ROI-driven data.

As if that wasn’t enough. an integral part of their offering is a social/mobile platform for consumer engagement they call SOMEVO. Here is an excerpt from their site:

Decooda offers SOMEVO, a comprehensive mobile and web based application that allows brand stakeholders (customers, prospects, partners, influencers, etc.) to engage directly with the company or a brand. SOMEVO gives customers the ability to write free-form text or fill out a simple questionnaire, and geo-location tag the communication. They will also be given the opportunity to select their preferred method of brand/company engagement (call, email, survey, text chat). Decooda will analyze the content and identify concept, theme, and sub-topic, and apply a sentiment and priority score. This information will be provided directly to the company and/or brand, and they will be given the opportunity to respond per the discretion of the stakeholder. All responses and resolution metrics will be documented and tracked for perpetuity. SOMEVO also serves as an opt-in platform where companies can make coupon, promotions and other loyalty and advocacy benefits available to customers.

Which features the most powerful and accurate multi-lingual text analysis solution in the world that evaluates content by theme, concept, topic, phrase or key words; thus enabling marketers to extract the precise meaning of all communications. SOMEVO is the first platform that enables B2B and B2C customers the opportunity to communicate feedback and ideas directly to brands and optionally to their friends. SOMEVO runs on all Smartphones and supports all browsers.

Unlike many companies, we believe people want to take an active role in the development of a brand if we provide honest and transparent communications; coupling this “it’s your responsibility” approach with a game, points, rewards and promotions will further drive utilization and engagement, separate SOMEVO from the competition.

Wow. So Decooda is a company that not only offers advanced data collection, synthesis, and analysis technologies but they also utilize that data to directly guide marketing decisions in real-time AND they have  a platform to engage consumers via mobile devices for both research and marketing purposes using social media and gaming models. Obviously, I am impressed. Actually, I am downright jealous. It’s a brilliant concept. Here is a video that explains their underlying process a bit more:


These guys seem to have built the perfect solution for the needs of today’s marketing organizations. It radically changes the game for market research. Is it any wonder that “How Soon Is Now?”, with it’s line regarding being too late and losing hope, popped into my head?  Have we waited too long to evolve to respond to the same market forces that are spawning firms like Decooda?

I’m not here to shill for the company; if you want to find out more there is a wealth of information on their website and Youtube channel. And by the way, their marketing materials are first rate as well, something that is also a historic challenge for MR firms. There is an awful lot for us to learn from these folks!

This is not intended to be a eulogy for the market research industry, but I do hope it’s taken as a strong warning. The game has changed. New players are leveraging technologies and evolving cultural trends in ways that few MR firms can adapt to.  They are developing tools that may not replace the value of skilled insights consultants and specialized market research suppliers, but that certainly do much of what our industry has done in the past while building exciting new ROI-focused value propositions.

All hope is not gone yet, but we have an immense amount of  catch-up to do. In the meantime, Decooda and other firms traveling down a similar path are blazing a trail for us to follow. If we can leverage our experience, creativity, and resources we can compete in this new game. If we don’t, then companies like Decooda will be the new leaders in a very different industry than we see today.

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