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Predictions for 2013 Part 2: Leslie Townsend, Simon Chadwick & Lenny Murphy

Simon Chadwick of Cambiar, Leslie Townsend of Kinesis Survey Technologies, and I answer listener questions following our November 14 webinar hosted by Research for Good on "Predictions for 2013."

Research For Good


Editor’s Note: On November 14th Research For Good held a webinar on “Predictions for 2013” with Simon Chadwick of Cambiar, Reineke Reitsma of Forrester, Leslie Townsend of Kinesis Survey Technologies, and I to discuss our thoughts on what the next year may hold for the insights industry. It was moderated by Kristin Luck of Decipher and in addition to her own topics, listeners were invited to submit their questions for us. We did our best to get to all of them, but over 50 questions were left hanging so we all agreed to take a stab at answering them and post our thoughts in blog form. Yesterday we posted Reineke Reitsma of Forrester sharing her thinking on those questions related to social media research, mobile research, behavioral research, and ROI measurement. Today we have the responses of Simon, Leslie, and I.

We all know playing prognosticator has it’s challenges, but when a crew like this all basically agree on what is coming down the pike it certainly is at least worth paying attention to. I hope that you’ll read these thoughts and give them due diligence in your own strategic planning efforts for the coming year. Of course they should be taken with a grain of salt, but consider them the expert opinions of folks who make their living by following trends and thinking about the implications of those observations for the insights industry.

For those who want to listen to the original webinar, there is an embed of the recording below. It’s good stuff and well worth the time to take a gander at.

I’ve ordered the Q&A below with questions directed at Leslie and Simon specifically first, and those to all of us or just to me afterwards. This is a long post and there is some redundancy (and even a bit of silliness), but I think you’ll enjoy the thoughtfulness of most of the questions and our responses to them.



Q: Please define DIY. Does it refer to inside the client’s company or the participants doing DIY?             

Leslie:    The term is used in different ways, but for the most part when people speak of DIY, they are referring to end clients who undertake research tasks themselves — from design through to execution.  DIY is often used to refer to the programming and reporting aspects of research, more specifically. 

Q: What are your predictions for B2B market research? Will new mobile technologies have much impact?        

Leslie:    When we look at our internal traffic, there are a higher percentage of mobile respondents entering consumer-oriented surveys than in B2B surveys.  However, this varies significantly by segment, and I believe in general that B2B researchers must observe the same best practices around redesigning projects for a multimode approach.   Specific segments of the B2B population — such as senior executives, construction workers, and outside sales — are best approached with mobile technologies.   While location-based services may not play as great a role for B2B, all of us must respect respondents by allowing them to utilize the device of their choosing to complete research tasks.

Q: I am interested in your predictions regarding mobile surveys             

Leslie:    Mobile surveys will lead in general to a shortened survey length across all projects and a streamlining of research objectives for any given project.  We will tend to conduct shorter projects, but perhaps more frequently, marrying results across projects.  The combination of social media, location-based services, and mobile devices will be the focus of newer methodologies.  The best part of mobile technologies for our industry is that it will bring developing nations online and allow us to gather insights more quickly in these regions.  Already much of the offline and SMS research in developing regions is moving to a real-time, browser-based approach.  This will reduce the time and costs to gather data in these regions tremendously.

Q: What are you opinions for conducting valid research via social media and mobile?  

Leslie:    With social media launch, it is difficult to control the type of device that respondents will use.  In general, as much as 40% to 50% of respondents from a social media launch will elect to use a mobile device — you have to be ready with a device-agnostic solution.  In general, social media sample should be blended with other sources in order to control for response bias.  But if we are talking about projects where the use of mobile devices is going to be the norm AND utilize social media as the recruitment or invitation mode, then more than likely the research will be taking place at a point of purchase or consumption.  Using social media as the sole sample source — unless you are targeting customers or have a very controlled audience — is probably going to provide results skewed toward specific demographic and behavioral audiences.

Q: For Simon – Why is prediction market modeling a Not Hot methodology, especially with behavioral economics being such a rage (again!)       

Simon:  I think it’s probably seen as a niche development; it has mainly been promoted as a copy testing methodology to date. That said, I also think that it is not that well understood. BrainJuicer has done a great job of demystifying it, but it still remains a hard sell. Interestingly, the Iowa Exchange consistently predicted the Obama win and got the electoral college split perfect….

Q: Mr. Chadwick said that the educational institutions are not well prepared to train people in MR. Where should I go to get a better education? I want excel in qualitative and quantitative.

Simon:  Right now, that’s a difficult question to answer. I don’t know of any educational institution that excels at this in the new era. Univ. of Georgia and Univ of Texas at Arlington are good programs, but I worry that they are too lodged in the past. You could try Georgia’s online program.

Q: Will Nate Silver get recruited by one of the large global MR firms?  

Simon:  I would love to recruit him myself! If they have any sense, the NYT will pay him shed loads of money to stay on.

Q: Are marketers trending more toward do it yourself research, like SurveyMonkey or outsourcing it to market research firms?  

Simon:  DIY is cannibalizing some research that was previously done by agencies, but really it is expanding the market, enabling marketers in all sizes of companies to ask quick questions to answer immediate and tactical issues.

Q: Which companies are maximizing their return on MR and how are they doing that?

Simon:  The usual suspects – P&G, Unilever, Kraft, General Mills. These are all really smart cookies and they are experimenting like crazy.

Q: Is it an important skill to come up with the important question/s to ask? In other words – should the question drive what data we access, rather than the other way around, to avoid info overload?             

Simon: This will be increasingly important in the future as research (as we know it today) seeks to provide the “why” to Big Data’s “what”.

Lenny:  Yes. In my conversations with clients the prevailing sense is that MR has lost the focus that all research should be business issue driven and methodologically / data agnostic. In the era of “Big Data” that becomes even more important as we learn to separate the signal from the noise to deliver on that imperative. 

Q: Do many clients do in-house qualitative?     

Leslie: Qualitative encompasses many research methodologies:  ethnographies, communities, focus groups (both traditional and online), social media listening, etc.  My perception is that end clients typically do not conduct their own ethnographies, although they increasingly incorporate ethnographical elements (uploaded images, etc.) into their research designs.  Ethnographical analysis is largely left to specialists.   There is a strong interest by end clients in running their own communities, but communities require tremendous resources as well as objectivity to maintain, and very few end clients have the required sources.  And there can be extensive setup and planning for a community, which requires a different type of resource.  We see strong interest, but not a high degree of success yet — it requires specialized experience in the underlying subject matter itself, psychology, qualitative analytics, etc.  End users WILL get there.  Online focus groups are mostly provided under a service bureau approach but software licensing models are emerging and we see a great deal of interest by end user to take this on.  Much of social media listening is brought in-house, but not necessarily directly by research teams.

Simon: More are doing so now with the advent of digital qualitative and immersive online research. Still early days, but a definite trend

Lenny: Yes; companies like Gutcheck, AnswerTap, Qualvu, Revelation, Over The Shoulder, Crowdtap, etc… (to name just a few) are all offering technology driven solutions for qualitative research for client-side users.

Q: Are the panelists seeing trends universally across industry segments or are you seeing segment differences eg. CPG versus tech clients  etc?              

Simon: CPG leads the way, but others are not far behind.

Lenny: As usual, the large CPG firms tend to lead, followed closely by tech, automotive, and retailers.

Q: What kind of competencies are needed for MR professionals in order to optimize their value for the impending Big Data world?      

Simon: Analytics modeling and data mining!

Lenny: The much heralded Data Scientist is certainly one; people who are used to working with a wide variety of data sources in large quantities to produce algorithms that can make sense of it. I also believe social and behavioral psychologists, business strategists, visualization and story-telling experts and subject matter experts will be in high demand.

Q: Can the panelists talk about the future viability of online panels? Will live/social media recruiting of panelists be enough to generate reliable and consistent panelists. 

Leslie: Our industry will always need respondents.  Online panels are evolving from double opt-in panels to simply that — respondents — who enter through the river, social media, and a variety of sources.  Social media in and of itself produces a highly biased data set and requires blending with other sources.  The panel industry is evolving in a way that this blending is occurring through exchanges, so that companies that have, as an example only social media panelists can utilize panelists acquired through other means, who may also have need of their social media-recruited panelists. The  industry evolving to more easily “trade” panelists across platforms and projects in real time as they are available to participate and as appropriate projects become available.

Simon: Panels have their place, but are increasingly just one part of the picture in sample sourcing. The fact that they are email-based limits them in the long term, although the advent of mobile could give them a new lease on life. Most sample companies today source from hundreds of different sites and blend these sources to produce consistency and reliability using “secret sauces” to do the blending. I believe SSI’s blend to be a leader in this regard, but then I am biased!

Lenny: Panels will have a place, especially as a means of reaching niche audiences, but I expect to see them aligning closely with major social media platforms and integrating the API data from them such as pureprofile is doing. I also expect to see the growth of more private communities/panels as the hub of much (but certainly not all) research activity. If I were the CEO of one of the major panel companies I would be seriously looking at developing this community model as an extension of the core panel asset. Pay attention to Research Now, Vision Critical, pureprofile, uSamp, and Google; they each have distinct value propisitions and constituencies and are working hard to evolve and pioneer future models. 

Q: I’d like to hear everyone comment on the second speaker’s prediction that “”old school”” methods will persevere into the foreseeable future.  I ask this because everyone else seems to be predicting massive changes.  Are those changes INCREMENTAL to our heritage methods, or will they REPLACE what we’ve been accustomed to in the past?

Leslie: Perhaps we should start with a definition of “old school,” which is generally meant to refer to the concept of achieving reproducible results across identical survey projects.  Consistency of results provides the reasonable expectation that results are representative of a specific population.  Our industry is “letting go” of the idea that this consistency can be achieved in all situations.  For high-spend projects, where the investment and potential consequences of failure of research are significant, “old school” research will be maintained.  A great deal of the new research modes are incremental, less and less research is “old school” because it does add to cost and timing, and the value of some research methods has yet to be revealed or shared. 

Simon:  Survey research will retain A place in the armory of market information and analytics, but it will no longer be THE go-to method. We see a gentle decline in survey research’s share of wallet. Much of what is new will indeed be incremental – we are already seeing this in the way the industry (MRS and ESOMAR) are measuring our space

Lenny:   I see traditional methods evolving to fit within the new socially-driven “internet of things”  data rich paradigm, and what that will likely mean is that they stop being the primary driver of usage from clients and consequently revenue from suppliers. We are in the experimental phase right now perhaps best referred to as the “Age of Augmentation” where new approaches are being tested and synthesized with traditional. As that validation process runs its course, the market will speak as it always does: whatever can deliver the right information cheapest, fastest, and best will win widespread adoption and others will either fade away or be relegated to niche activities where they are fit for purpose.

Q: We’re seeing the increased appearance in the number of suppliers driven by technology (and sometimes gimmickry) rather than solid research practices.  Do you agree and if so, do you see that continuing?           

Leslie:    Every time there are technology shifts, changes to the supplier set occur.  In some instances, the “customary” suppliers cannot keep pace with technology — it requires modification to existing software with acceptance by the underlying customer base, which is generally more complex than introduction of a new solution.  In other instances, such as we have seen the past couple of years with social media, investor focus drives new start-ups.  I do see a continuation in the number of new suppliers coming to market, but many of the newer ones are struggling because there are so many right now, and not all will make it.  It requires a much larger investment for a start-up in our industry than it did ten or even five years ago.  It’s much easier to come up with a product than a value proposition.

Simon:  This is an incredibly attractive space for technologists to enter – together with their VC backers! As my colleague Beth Rounds said at the Mobile MR World conference Lenny organized in Cincinnati, if you are a researcher, learn technology; if you are a technologist, please learn research.

Lenny:   It’s the nature of technology to create disruption of the status quo in whatever area it is applied and that has been true since the invention of the wheel.  It’s also a truism that companies succeeed when they meet a need and do it well, and succeed in the long term when they evolve and adapt to changes in the marketplace wherever they come from. Factor all that together and that means that we will continue to see more technological disruption, and more than likely at a faster pace. This is the new normal.

Q: What will the impact of permission requirements be on the size of ‘big data’?          

Lenny:   I think this is a marginal issue and largely exists between the technology/platform provider and consumer as part of the value exchange between them. The mobile app market is the perfect example of how it can work seamlessly and legally; consumers give express consent when downloading an app and the app provider gives them fair value in exchange. Overall it’s a tempest in a teapot and I don’t consider it an area that MR will have some special position in the market on in the future.

Q: I would like to hear the panel’s thoughts on Mobile Panels and Gamification?           

Leslie:    “Mobile panels” are, for the most part, traditional panelists who have opted in to either download an app to their smartphone or have agreed to complete projects using their phone’s mobile browser.  They are usually a subset of a larger panel.  There are also many “accidental” mobile panelists — for instance, recruited via social media, which is accessed just as frequently on mobile devices as desktop devices.  These individuals enter research projects on the device they are currently using, but wouldn’t necessarily be considered a mobile panelist.   Mobile panels, regardless of whether deliberate or incidental, are at what I consider to be one of the most exciting cornerstones of the future of our industry — the point of purchase and/or consumption.  Through a combination of social media, location-based services, and mobile technology, the ability to gather information at the store shelf should lead us to some very promising new insights.  I am not as optimistic about gamification.   The added cost and time factors rule it out for most companies’ projects.

Simon:  I believe mobile panels will flourish, at least in the short term. The jury is out on gamification. Clients are not (currently) that interested in it and the evidence is not yet there that it improves data quality or response or completion rates.

Lenny:   Google will have the world’s largest “mobile panel” when they roll out the GCS model into the Android ecosystem and that will push mobile research as a whole far down the path of being the primary channel for data collection. Others will bask in a halo effect and will carve out their own unique value props to compete. Gamification is more of an engagement issue to me, although I also think there is strong evidence that gameplay may reflect human decision making more accurately than traditional designs. I do see gamification growing primarily driven by the “research under the guise of marketing” model where collecting data is part of the design of marketing and branding exercises. That trend will continue. We’ll also see an increase in game design elements into specific client initiatives where it makes the best business sense for them to do it.

Q: How are big data principles going to be applied to MR?         

Lenny:   MR-collected data will be a spoke on the wheel of Big Data and it’s role will simply be to feed that hub and fill in the gaps of information not available in other channels. MR professionals will be part of the multi-disciplinary teams that help to give the “why” to Big Data’s “who, what, where, when, and how”.

Q: How will behavioral economics impact market research in 2013?      

Lenny:   It’s a fascinating school of thought that has massive implications for many aspects of MR (and society as a whole). I think we’ll see continual exploration and experimentation and like all things, if it can be proven to generate better results and help guide competitive advantage to brands in a cost effective and scalable approach then it will prosper.

Q: Which of the new methodologies will rock in 2013?

Leslie:    Location-based sampling frameworks

Simon:  We’ll have to wait for Future of Research 2013 and GRIT 2013 to find out! Look for mobile to really rocket up the lists.

Lenny:   Communities, Social Media, Text Analytics and Mobile certainly are where my bets are. I’d also say watch for non-biometrically driven emotional measurement to grow.

Q: What is the future of online survey panels?

Simon:  They will remain a part of the solution, but the future really is in massive online sourcing and blending

Q: What changes should the qualitative research industry expect to see in 2013?           

Simon:  Continued massive growth in digital and immersive online research and a gradual decline in focus groups

Lenny:   Simon said it best here. I’d only add that the good news is the toolset will be expanding and quallies overall will be in demand.

Q: With the deluge of online and mobile techniques, what do you predict will happen to face-to-face research (groups, ethnography).  

Lenny:   In some markets these techniques will still be appropriate and in some use cases they will be best, but mobile video and incremental techniques  will massively decrease their usage overall.

Q: What new tools do you see having an increased role in analyzing and making sense out of the vast array of captured data we have.  

Simon:  Funnily enough, it’s not new tools that will do this, but old tools, powered by new technology. The MR industry should be horse-whipped for ignoring data mining for so long – it has been available for relatively low cost for decades. This is what analytics companies are using – just with massively improved technology.

Lenny:   New analytical and visualization tools, combined with a shift towards more visual storytelling such as infographics will become the norm.

Q: Will lifestyle categories (gluten free, GMO free, organic, free range, etc.) continue to grow in 2013?             

Lenny:   If there is money to be made in a category then insight will be needed to capitalize on the opportunity.

Q: What predictions for 2012 did not materialize?          

Simon:  The bottom did not fall out of survey research; the large research companies are still growing; and Romney did not win the election.

Lenny:   I am not aware of any MR specific predictions that didn’t materialize; the variances are only in scale and speed of the growth of the trends. 2012 certainly saw significant movement in all the predictions that I pay attention to. 

Q: What are your thoughts surrounding the challenge of falling response rates?             

Simon:  This is a false dichotomy. People are failing to respond to research in the way in which we wanted them to respond. They are eager to share their opinions in multiple forums – just not in boring surveys. Find ways of connecting with them that will tap into that eagerness!

Lenny:   It’s all about engagement, context and freedom of choice. Research has to let go of our rigid investigatory frameworks and learn from the lessons of social media, social games, and loyalty programs as ways to engage with consumers.

Q: Will 2013 be the year in which the popular 2012 techniques (communities, mobile, social media analytics) will be used TOGETHER?       

Simon:  YES!

Lenny:   Synthesis and augmentation will be one of the major trends that increase in usage in 2013.

Q: Who will be the big winners in 2013?              

Simon:  Google Consumer Surveys, Survey Monkey, Qualtrics, Revelation. But don’t count out the big boys, either on the full-service side or on the sample side. They are investing heavily in new technologies and have the firepower to do so.

Lenny:   Any firm that can deliver data to drive insights that informs a competitive advantage cheaper, faster, and better wins. Follow the investment dollars, deal news, and revenue reports.

Q: Do you see a decline in effectiveness of online research due to proliferation of surveys?  Cooperation and/or Quality declining?          

Simon:  We are past that point. The worst is behind us and we are constantly evolving new ways of involving people in research – just witness the success of MROCs and proprietary panels.

Lenny:   As Robert Moran says, we are seeing the rise of the Rateocracy; rating and answering questions is simply ingrained in much of our society now, although in a greatly condensed way than traditional survey models.

Q: As baby boomers age into retirement, will online surveys to seniors be more representative and therefore increase in use?     

Simon:  Very likely

Lenny:   Mobile connectivity globally will remove most demographic connection barriers. The rest is an issue of engagement via a value exchange between target consumers and those asking for their data.

Q: What does the future hold for long term savings (pensions)?             

Lenny:   Gold looks good right now doesn’t it?

Q: What is the fate of small full service suppliers or consultancies – disintermediated?               

Simon:  If they are undifferentiated, then the answer is yes. Smaller, undifferentiated, full service research companies are suffering disproportionately.

Lenny:   If I was going to start a research supplier business right now I’d focus on a niche sector, specialized approach, or technology offering. I don’t see much long term viability for anything else.

Q: With email decreasing, how will we find new recruits for online surveys?   

Simon:  Through massive online sourcing and blending.

Lenny:   I agree with Simon on this overall, but I’d add to it by saying integration with social platforms will be key.

Q: Will the average price of cpi (cost per interview) continue to decrease? (online fieldwork) 

Lenny:   As mobile and iterative models gain traction the CPI will decrease, but there is an absolute bottom dictated by incentive costs. We’re probably near that now. Goggle Consumer Surveys is probably the best price barometer in the market right now.

Q: Will social media listening supplant focus groups?   

Simon: No. Immersive online research will do that

Lenny:   First, let’s call it “unstructured data analysis” since it encompasses so much more than just social media channels. It will grow to cover much territory of traditional quant and qual, but ultimately it will help us ask more specific questions regardless of the approach. The era of the research project as fishing expedition will end driven by the ability to learn much through these technologies.

Q: Where do you think research dollars are going to be placed?              

Lenny: In whatever delivers the best overall value and ROI to the client and delivers on the business objectives. Increasingly that won’t be surveys (including trackers) or focus groups and often it will be in programs that meet both insight and marketing needs.

Q: As traditional market research continues to migrate, do you think quantitative research will become a hybrid qual/quant or simply something new? 

Simon:  The definition of quant will change and will come to include qual/quant hybrids, Big Data, social media analytics – ten years from now, nobody will distinguish between these, they will all be part of the standard toolkit

Lenny:   Yep, what he said. The current dichotomy and frame of reference will shift to a whole new paradigm that has elements of many approaches.

Q: What do you see as the biggest blindspot for 2013…what are we not watching that we should?        

Simon:  Good question! A new recession could wreak havoc in the industry… New competitors could grow much faster than we anticipated… New technologies that we have not imagined could change our landscape.

Lenny:   Black swans by their very nature are impossible to predict (other than we know they will occur). I think the global economy, unrest in the Middle East that could escalate, and natural disasters a la Sandy are always possibilities that could impact business. As far as what we can control for, Google, Microsoft & Apple are all betting on some variant of augmented reality by new devices similar to eye glasses which has massive implications for research. I also think the “internet of things” has immense possibilities to disrupt MR. Finally, AI, Neuroscience and cybernetics could change the world  any day now and MR will have to fit into the new world order.

Q: What ROI models exist relating research to productivity?     

Simon:  None. This has been a “holy grail” and nobody has been able to crack it, not even Coke.

Lenny:   There is a ton of very promising work being done within the realms of advanced analytics and “big data” that is very close to achieving this and several pilots under way that could prove the model. Watch for news on this in the coming months.

Q: How do market researchers grow in this environment? How can we learn faster?    

Leslie:    Greater experimentation and sharing of case studies across accounts, networking, and finding your own source of inspiration.

Simon:  Keep attending webinars and conferences; read as much as you can; challenge your bosses to send you on as many out of the box learning programs as they can afford

Lenny:   Invest in innovation, experimentation, education, and creativity. Avoid tunnel vision and myopia.

Q: Please share your thoughts on the changing role of qualitative research at this time.              

Leslie     Qualitative and quantitative disciplines are becoming less distinct from one another.  For instance, communities combine social media, both peer-to-peer and research-administered quant, and other qualitative elements such as image and video uploading.  We see a tremendous surge in the addition of qualitative components to surveys, and the addition of surveys in what are primarily qualitative exercises. 

Lenny:   I agree; we are in the Golden Age. Never before has qual been so scalable and able to be “in the moment” with consumers. Also the skill sets of qualitative researchers are integral to the synthesis model emerging.

Q: What will be the most impactful (for marketing purposes) integrations of traditional and social media data?             

Lenny:   The ability to create both group and individual targeting profiles combined with longitudinal tracking across “lifestreams”.

Q: What do you see as a role for solo practitioners in 2013?       

Leslie:    Solo practitioners must be innovative, provide subject matter expertise, and/or play a key consulting role to stand out in 2013. 

Simon:  If you have a differentiated, consultative offer, you will be fine. If you are a survey researcher for hire, look for another job

Lenny:   Leslie and Simon nailed it.

Q: What is the effect of the economy impacting Market Research in 2013?        

Leslie:    There remains the opportunity for favorable growth.  Recessionary years do not always a market research recession make … often they drive a greater need for reliable and actionable insight.  We are seeing some big initiatives underway for 2013 and feel optimistic.

Simon:  European research markets will continue to decline. Asia and Latin America will grow more slowly. North American growth will be slow, but with vast differences between those who are differentiated (fast growth) and those who offer generic research services (death)

Lenny:   I am optimistic about Latin America and Asia Pac, as well as a handful of Eastern European, African and Middle Eastern countries. Watch the trends of surging middle class, rapid mobile adoption, and overall social media usage; they are early indicators of where overall economic growth is likely and consequently MR spend as brands develop those markets. Europe and North America will continue apace as now (slow). In all regions traditional research will see incremental decline as new approaches gain market share. 

Q: I am interested in hearing predictions for B2B research and how new approaches can assist/will change the way B2B work is conducted?       

Lenny:   Everything else we’ve talked about will impact B2B as well, albeit more slowly. The nut to crack in B2B is primarily one of engagement with a highly segmented target so I would expect to see LinkedIn make another research foray (probably through Google Surveys). Other business networking platforms will make similar plays. In all cases the sample source will set strict limits on the “terms of engagement”.

Q: What is the state of, and directions for, content analysis in unstructured textual data?          

Lenny:   True emotional measurement not just sentiment, integration with other data sources, real-time big data processing, and integration with predictive algorithms.  

Q: Can valid research be conducted through social media?         

Simon:  Talk to Annie Pettit (or follow her on Twitter). She is the most authoritative person on the planet on this issue (and her answer is yes, maybe)

Lenny:   It has been, is being, and will continue to be. Look for some major shifts in tracking studies being moved to social media based approaches. Same thing goes for media measurement. We’ll see the pilots in 2013 and then the floodgates will open afterwards.

Q: If universities & colleges are centers of excellence, why are they not involved in new market research methods that you are predicting?       

Simon:  Because they are hide-bound, not involved in the commercial world. They need to get out more (though kudos to Pam Bracken from Georgia – she is out there all the time)

Lenny:   They are working on it, but as Simon noted there are a variety of challenges there. I agree that UGA is trying to lead the pack, but academia is a slow to change environment. They’ll get there.

Q: How big will gamification really be?

Leslie:    It’s hard to say.  From our side, we see very little client push toward gamification.  Few budgets can support it.  There is a better opportunity to push gamification with apps and tied in with corporate marketing initiatives, where the budgets are larger.  Communities may also support some gamification elements, because these are usually more longitudinal data collection initiatives.

Simon:  The jury is out.

Lenny:   Depends on your definition. I agree that building a deeply interactive visual game design engine that functions like a Kinesis or Confirmit is tough right now, but there are many game design platforms that hold some promise for adaptation for MR. Incorporating game mechanics is a whole other thing, and I think we will see widespread adoption on that front simply because we’ll have to from an engagement model standpoint. Custom developed research/marketing games by Frito-Lay, Dunkin Donuts, Reckitt Benckiser and others clearly show investments are being made and that will continue.

Q: How much research do you see shifting to mobile? 

Leslie:    We see very rapid shifts underway in the US, and to a lesser extent in other developed regions.  And of course, in LDNs there is rapid online movement via mobile.  Some methods are “shifting,” but in other cases, it is simply a matter of respondents choosing to use tablets and smartphones for conventional research or methods being augmented by mobile.  For instance, diaries, which were falling out of popularity a few years ago, have seen quite a resurgence because of the ease of quick diary entry on a smartphone.

Simon:  We have already passed the tipping point. Growth is in the three digit range and will continue to be so for some to come. Just think what tablets could do for this sector!

Lenny:   In the next 5 years the PC will be primarily a business work terminal and mobile devices will be the universal connective technology. The shift to mobile isn’t optional; it’s mandatory to survive. So yeah, growth will be explosive, eclipsing the speed of the shift to online. Oh, and the vote is out whether any MR firm will own this. It’s far more likely that Google will dominate this market and that carriers will move into the space as well. 

Q: What are upcoming trends in the bakery and dessert category?  What’s the next big baking trend? 

Simon:  Seriously?

Lenny:   Annie, this has to be from you. 🙂 I suspect you are a far better judge than anyone else. That said, 3D printing could really revolutionize all production, including food! 

Q: Aside from mobile, are there any new trends burgeoning (e.g., simulation, gaming)?            

Lenny:   See all of the above.

Q: How is the industry different coming out of the recession? 

Simon:  It all starts with the client. They are leaner, have fewer resources and yet are being asked to deliver much more. As a result, they are looking for different and new solutions and agencies need to be in the forefront of supplying these. Our data suggest that this is slow to happen right now, which is why you are seeing so many new competitors come into our space.

Lenny:   As usual, Simon nailed it. Cheaper, Faster, Better isn’t a request, it is the new normal.

Q: I am pretty new in MR. I have a Master in Educational studies. What degree should I pursue to be more prepared for the next Gen MR?          

Lenny:   Data Science, Marketing, Behavioral Psychology, and good ol’ MBA programs would be good starting points, although I don’t believe there are many programs in existence today that are totally right fits. I hope to see more “Business Insights” or “Insights & Strategy” courses being developed in the near future that will help consolidate the best aspects of many of these other general programs.

Q: Is our industry embracing Social Media Listening and analysis? Yes/No? If yes, how?              

Lenny:   Yes, and the trend is only increasing. We’ll show this comprehensively in the newest GRIT report coming out in January. That said, there is still a long way to go and many perceived barriers within MR, although not within other areas of the enterprise. The most common deployment today is in customer sat tracking, media tracking, brand perception indexing, and message testing.

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5 responses to “Predictions for 2013 Part 2: Leslie Townsend, Simon Chadwick & Lenny Murphy

  1. This was a very interesting, and insightful, discussion. Being active in the technology industry, I would also urge the MR industry to stay abreast of developments at software and computing companies. Increasingly you will see those companies not simply “making products” and waiting for industries to make best use of them but instead seeking input from tech using industries on their “is it possible to have a system that does….” type needs. Sorry for the run on sentence, but wanted to share this thought with you all.



  2. One trend I see happening with the qualitative promotion effectiveness research I do, is too many consumers are not reading questions or not taking the time to select the right answer. As they become familiar with online surveys and doing more of them, the responses are getting more “sloppy”. I know this because their answers make no sense (I.e., “didn’t buy the product because it’s too expensive”, but then answer “Defiitely Will” when asked if they will buy in the future). It seems like data used to be more reliable, now I have to go through and throw out responses that seem to make absolutely no sense. This really concerns me.

  3. The biggest “black swan” is the belief that users will be keen to participate in mobile based surveys. I think social media is like the early years of TV where we couldn’t get enough. My view is the medium over the next 5 years start seeing a retraction from sharing and participation as users start to narrow their “friend spaces”, focus communications to more meaningful stuff and away from trivia, start to turn off GPS locators and just decide they have had enough of unsolicited sharing. Think about it, it’s always the way for human beings to move from mass to focused. The other black swan, which has not been talked about and is related, and is happening, is that online panels are starting to slip in quality, representation and coverage. This again is a reflection of this general trend to getting bored with socialized sharing. I feel for anyone else, like us, who do tracking surveys using online panels and have to stay on top of this issue and demand much more from our panel suppliers in order to deliver comparable samples over longer time periods. I just think there is far too much “rose colored glasses” thinking out there at the moment. One only has to look at all the massive investment going on in hundreds of social media tracking tools. How different can they possibly be? Answer – not a lot, so watch the blood on the sidewalks for angel investors on this one. As one of the leading sources on text analytics said recently, 70% of twitter is just clutter and the rest isn’t much use. No surprises there, with the huge gender biases that few seem to want to address. So, let me make a bold claim that social media participation will never ever get a foothold in key market segments – and here I mean anyone with a good job, over 40 years old!! We are fooling ourselves if we think mobile surveys will ever get serious participation from this hugely important segment. Cindy’s comments about quality of response are another important issue that no one is addressing and frankly are part of the same story – declining interest. See you all in 5 years for a serious review!

  4. There is no doubt technology is driving change in the industry. There is also a great deal of experimentation going on, and it is an exciting time for some and scary time for others. But you only need to look at the core of successfully adopted research technologies to realize they are supported by the evolution of proven methodologies. I certainly acknowledge that the ‘new’ technology facilitate faster and more accessible insights, and its fun to watch the market hype about the next big thing. Yet once the bubble contracts (notice I did not say burst) we will end up with some really solid online methods to take us into an emerging digital economy, underpinned by fundamental changes in human behavior.

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