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The Top 20 Emerging Methods In Market Research For 2015: A GRIT Sneak Peek

An advance view of one of our most popular question areas from the forthcoming GRIT Report: the adoption of emerging approaches in the industry.

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Editor’s Note: The latest wave of the GRIT Report is in the hands of the designers now and will be published in just a few weeks! However, I’m a big fan of releasing sneak peeks of some of the findings, so today we’re giving you an advance view of one of our most popular question areas: the adoption of emerging approaches in the industry. Ray Poynter wrote the analysis for the report, and here is his take right from the rough draft.  There are some important insights here, especially regarding the continued client-side adoption of some approaches that market research suppliers may be missing out on, so we hope you use this as a comparison point for your own offerings as we head into 2016.


By Ray Poynter

When reviewing the market research approaches and techniques being used or considered we need to keep in mind that the GRIT sample tends to be drawn from people more interested in change and new approaches. This means the data should not be taken as being an audit of the whole research industry; rather the data are an indication of change and rate of change.

Four Categories of Adoption of New Techniques

As the chart below shows the GRIT participants usage of techniques produces four categories of adoption: Already Mainstream, Wide Level of Interest, Third Tier, and Niche.



Already Mainstream

This group consists of Mobile Surveys and Online Communities, which as the trend data shows has been the picture for a couple of years.

Wide Level of Interest

This group has two elements, the first is the analytics/Big Data group and the second is the mobile enabled qual group. Both of these groups score well in terms of ‘In Use’ and in ‘Considering’.

Third Tier

This group show interesting levels of adoption and interest, but have not really broken through. This group comprises Eye Tracking, Micro-Surveys, Behavioral Economics, and Research Gamification.


The remaining items are all clearly niche at the moment. Only a few of the GRIT participants are using them and relatively few are considering them.

The Trends

The table below shows the key data since Q1 2013, i.e. over the last 2.5 years.


% In Use Q1-Q2 2013 Q3-Q4 2013 Q1-Q2 2014 Q1-Q2 2015 Q3-Q4 2015
Mobile Surveys 42% 41% 64% 67% 68%
Online Communities 45% 49% 56% 59% 50%
Social Media Analytics 36% 36% 46% 45% 43%
Text Analytics 32% 33% 40% 38% 38%
Big Data Analytics 31% 32% 31% 34%
Mobile Qualitative 24% 22% 37% 43% 34%
Webcam-Based Interviews 26% 27% 34% 38% 33%
Mobile Ethnography 20% 21% 30% 35% 31%
Eye Tracking 22% 26% 34% 28% 28%
Micro-surveys 19% 25% 30% 25%
Behavioral Economics Models 25% 27% 21%
Research Gamification 15% 16% 23% 21% 20%
Facial analysis 9% 13% 18% 18% 18%
Prediction Markets 17% 17% 19% 21% 17%
Neuromarketing 9% 11% 13% 14% 15%
Crowdsourcing 13% 14% 17% 19% 12%
Virtual Environments/VR 17% 14% 17% 15% 10%
Biometric Response 7% 8% 13% 10% 10%
IoT/Sensor based Data Collection 12% 10% 9%
Wearables Based Research 7% 7% 8%
Sensor/Usage/Telemetry 7%


The key change over the last 2.5 years has been the arrival (in Q1 2014) of Mobile Surveys as the most widely adopted new technique.

The most recent data suggest that people are beginning to specialize, to pick those techniques which best suit them. For example, the average number of techniques mentioned as ‘In Use’ in Q1/2 of this year was 5.8, by Q3/4 this had fallen to 5.2.

The data do not show any sign that the newest or ‘hottest’ techniques, for example Wearables or Internet of Things are gaining widespread traction yet.

Users and Providers are Not the Same

When we look at buyers/users and seller/providers of research we see lot of similarity and some interesting differences.


% In Use Buyer/User Provider Gap
Mobile Surveys 54 72 -18
Online Communities 46 50 -5
Social Media Analytics 53 41 12
Text Analytics 38 38 0
Mobile Qualitative 26 36 -10
Big Data Analytics 40 32 8
Webcam-based Interviews 27 34 -8
Mobile Ethnography 25 33 -8
Eye Tracking 28 28 0
Micro-surveys 17 27 -10
Behavioral Economics Models 17 23 -6
Research Gamification 12 21 -9
Facial Analysis 14 19 -5
Prediction Markets 22 16 6
Neuromarketing 15 15 0
Crowdsourcing 16 11 5
Virtual Environments/VR 9 10 -1
Biometric Response 11 10 1
Internet Of Things Data 10 8 2
Wearables Based Research 5 9 -4
Sensor/Usage/Telemetry Data 6 7 -1

Base: Buyer/User=212, Provider/Vendor=810

The cells where the differences are highlighted in blue show where the In Use figures are higher for the providers of research. These may reflect the greater awareness that providers have about the techniques that are being used, for example an awareness that mobile is being used or that research gamification has been employed to optimize the research design.

The cells highlighted in red are those where the users/buyers of research have higher numbers for In Use. These cases may reflect situations where clients are not buying their services from traditional market research sources, for example Social Media and Big Data Analytics, although interestingly Prediction Markets and Crowdsourcing, which have vibrant and growing suppliers outside of mainstream research, are also included.

The implication here may be that research suppliers are missing in out on both new revenue opportunities and serving a larger client base by not offering these capabilities credibly.

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13 responses to “The Top 20 Emerging Methods In Market Research For 2015: A GRIT Sneak Peek

  1. Why can’t we look at things from our clients’ point of view rather than blindly chasing new for newness’ sake? My clients are medium and large-sized businesses – they don’t have lots of customers, and each of their customers is different in both what they want and what they bring to the relationship. My clients are looking for three things from their surveys – a high response rate; the ability to pose lots of questions; and attributed feedback. None of the above can deliver that.

    1. John, thank you for being the voice of typical (yesteryears’) MR! No offence, but I believe research companies have the opportunity or even duty to offer new solutions that provide more meaningful insights to customers than a simple survey, that they haven’t even considered!
      As Henry Ford said:“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This is how innovation works!
      The MR industry as a whole is very outdated compared to the available knowledge about human behaviour and the available technology to measure this. Many companies don’t like disruptive change like this as it often difficult and costly, but I am sure customers expect to get ‘state of the art’ research instead of methods that stem from the last century and have been proven to be very limited.

      Also, specifically to some of your points:

      Customers like asking a lot of questions as you say, and get attributed feedback. However, implicit research has shown us people are often not telling the truth or whole story anyway so are notoriously unreliable, especially if they are getting paid.. Combining Implicit measures such as Eye Tracking or Neuroscience with more traditional methods can provide more objective and significant and useful data as well as identify and validate findings that are truly relevant or genuine, this is quality over quantity. Decisions are often made at a very subconscious level so asking people is not the way to read these!

      High response rates you worry about are also a thing of the past when looking at new methods such as sensor/big data analysis that is collected inherently and does often not even require people to opt-in or even be paid for that matter! These new solutions provide more useful and reliable data to the clients. It is just a matter of educating the market and proper presentation, knowledge and trust in the mentioned innovative research methods. Data can tell a great story, but only if you know how to read it!

      Your defensive attitude towards new methods that assumes clients know what research method is best, works against innovation and helps stigmatise/discredit new methods which in turn makes client write them off as an option. A large MR company might not be keen to adopt expensive new practice which require new personell and training so it is easier to write innovative approaches off as gimmicky or passing fad to avoid this, and clients duly follow. After all: The MR companies should be the expert on methodology, and adopt the most suitable and useful methods available, and develop these further, you owe that to your clients and I am sure they will thank you when seeing how much more you can provide nowadays beyond the humble survey!

  2. This data seems to fly in the face of a lot of the disruptive claims made for innovations in market research in the blog space. If these tools were truly adding value we would not be seeing such a flat incidence of usage. And that disconnect between claims of usage by customers and suppliers – is that just a lagging conservatism among clients or serious questioning about value in application? .I suspect the latter.

    Missing from all this is a frequency of use question, which I am sure would confirm many of these claimed usage numbers are based on low incidence levels. Some of these tools show a declining pattern as well – no surprises for some like the behavioural economics which hand on heart are just spins on god questionnaire design. And VR and gamification – whither though??

    Maybe the next GRIT should introduce some reality measures (e.g. frequency) to see just how disruptive these innovations have been. I suspect the answer will be very few clients trying these tools beyond an initial trial or two.

  3. I found this comment from Gartner that may have some relevance.

    According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, a new technology goes through five stages.

    The first, the Innovation Trigger, occurs when a disruptive technology is introduced, followed by a gold rush dubbed the Peak of Inflated Expectations. Then the negative press begins during the third stage known as the Trough of Disillusionment. During the fourth stage, the Slope of Enlightenment, second-generation products are introduced and best practices emerge. Finally, by the time a new generation of products debuts during the fifth stage, the Plateau of Productivity, market adoption has reached 20% to 30%

    That 20-30% incidence figure looks familiar, does it not?

  4. I’m sorry Laurens, I should have explained that we are very niche. As well as only looking after medium and large-sized B2B organisations, we only conduct customer satisfaction surveys. For those customer satisfaction surveys our clients need to have a high response rate and pose lots of questions (we have an average worldwide response rate of over 70% based on up to 60 questions and statements from hard to reach decision-makers who are not paid or have any other incentive to complete the survey) in order to make strategic decisions based on the feedback. If they were using a web-based survey, which we know from the latest US figures have an average response rate of between 5% and 15%, it would be crazy to take any strategic decisions (remember they don’t have lots of customers). And, if their customers are all different, using statistical validity isn’t particularly helpful either. Here is a guide that helps our clients choose who they should survey – – it might help explain things better Laurens.

  5. Could you have spent 5 more minutes cleaning up the chart? Remove the ‘chart area’ button. Make the fonts the same size on the percentage labels. And make the legend at the bottom match the order of the chart. I would never present this chart as it is right now.

  6. Great intro to the report guys – would it be possible to get the definition details behind each of the research / methods categories? Thanks

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