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Market Research: 2014 In Review & 2015 In Anticipation

Last Friday a panel of leaders from the research industry shared their thoughts about 2014 and the projections for 2015. Here is a summary of the key points.


By Ray Poynter

Last Friday a panel of leaders from the research industry (plus me) shared their thoughts about 2014 and the projections for 2015. The panel comprised Lenny Murphy (GreenBook, Gen2 Advisors, IIeX), Simon Chadwick (Editor of Research World and head of consultancy Cambiar), Kristin Luck (ESOMAR Council member and President/CMO of Decipher), Jeffrey Resnick (CASRO board member and Managing Partner at Stakeholder Advisory Services) and myself.




You can hear the full recording here (90 minutes).

In summary the key points were:

2014 Main Themes

  1. Mobile is mainstream, it is everywhere, and it is soon going to represent more than 50% of all surveys.
  2. The Cambiar data on investment, mergers and acquisitions showed that 2013 was a very big year for big data companies, but 2014 was probably a much weaker year – the bubble may have burst for a while.
  3. Automation is a key theme, ZappiStore is the poster child, but there are many other examples.
  4. The emergence of large Japanese companies in the mergers and acquisitions scene is an important indicator of change. Companies like Macromill, Intage, and Rakuten are shaping up to be major regional and global players.
  5. The MR industry is much happier than it has been for years, partly because of the improved economy, but in many cases the positive vibe is based on new solutions, new tools, and younger people.
  6. After a couple of years in the doldrums, neuroscience and biometrics has seen a major growth in interest.
  7. Recognition that MR needs to do more to attract new talent into the industry, more to train people, and more to change working practices to make them attractive to millennials.

Things that did not happen in 2014

  1. Salesforce not buying somebody like SurveyMonkey, to expand their breadth of offer, was seen as surprising.
  2. Text analytics and big data did not establish any bridgehead with the core business of market research.
  3. Lack of key acquisitions by GfK and Ipsos, unlike Nielsen and Kantar.

Key predictions for 2015

  1. Web messaging is going to be the biggest mobile growth area, although location, passive, and in the moment are all going to be strong growth areas.
  2. Japan is going to emerge as a much bigger player, although the mergers are also going to create some major challenges.
  3. More key mergers and acquisitions (and perhaps IPOs).
  4. More automation, more cost-cutting, doing more with less.
  5. Moving budgets from established markets to emerging markets.
  6. Text analytics and social media analytics will start to build a bigger platform of use.
  7. The line between qual and quant continuing to blur with the growth of quant approaches to data that have traditionally been qual, and the growth of data collection modes that are equally suitable for qual and quant (such as communities and mobile ‘in the moment’ research).

Challenges for 2015

  1. Privacy problems! It would only take one more failure/scandal on the part of data handling organisations to create a public and legislative backlash that would make life for market researchers very hard.
  2. Building trust – the Global Business Research Network (GRBN) recently published the Trust and Personal Data Survey, based on 23,000 respondents, showing that on average one-in-three do not trust the market research industry to safeguard their personal data. Without this trust, we have a future with limited prospects.
  3. The risk of an economic downturn, with Europe, China, and Japan all being likely causes. This is a possibility, not a probability, but the downside would be major.
  4. Unintentional legislative impacts. Laws relating to net neutrality, terrorism, do not call, distance selling all pose a risk of impacting market research, often unintentionally.
  5. The large companies, such as GfK and Ipsos, need to establish a clear migration path from the old world to the new world.

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4 responses to “Market Research: 2014 In Review & 2015 In Anticipation

  1. Very surprised that this so-called set of leaders are all from America (Ray excepted).

    I have nothing against experts from America but why no experts from Latam, Africa, Europe, Asia?

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Fair point. Part of it was driven simply by scheduling challenges and some by the more pragmatic issue that only Simon and I make our livings as professional industry watchers and consultants and as such observe trends globally as much as we possibly can. Jeff is deeply involved with the Global Research Business Network. Kristin of course runs a global company and is a frequent presenter at global conferences.So although we may be housed in America, I believe we have a pretty comprehensive global view. Next year we’ll strive to get more “feet on the ground” perspectives from other regions.

  2. I just think you should note that, while they did not purchase Survey Monkey or a survey based platform, – they went another direction by purchasing ExactTarget. An email delivery system, plus. Who knows what 2015 will hold instore…. I am seeing more and more blurring between market research and predictive data analytics. Where the information comes from at the beginning, is different – but the outcome…having more than data – having data insights and then Answers, is the same goal for both.


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