By Kirk Hendrickson
1) Marketing spending will continue to move mobile.
As ad spending continues to target Millennial and Centennial consumers, the focus will be on mobile and video – where these generations are plugged in constantly. These types of advertisements require us to rethink current models of ad testing and incorporate newer technology that can track and monitor how the younger generations respond to advertising on mobile devices.
Location-based marketing will likely see a huge increase this year. Consumers, especially younger consumers, have developed the ability to effectively ignore marketing that does not directly apply to them. Successful brands and retailers will incentivize engagement with brands through personalized marketing that catch the consumer in their immediate reality (time and place). Consumers appreciate the personalized touch of location-based coupons and sale announcements. Continuing to understand how consumers use mobile while in stores or while out walking around will be a big focus of experience-based research this year, which leads to our next trend.
2) Brands will increase efforts to measure the experiencing-self of consumers.
As brands increase efforts to measure the experiencing- self of consumers along with the remembering-self of consumers that has traditionally been measured, integrating the two becomes critical. Research methodologies like monitoring and ethnography need to be paired with data from survey research to better understand the full picture of what is going on with consumers.
Our product offerings largely focus on the experiencing-self of consumers (shopper eye tracking, coding emotional responses of consumer reaction to displays, ads or communication, etc.), but what is becoming even more evident is that our research is not just part of a one-off research initiative, but rather part of a larger research program that takes into account the full picture of the consumer landscape. We are often being asked to incorporate segmentations models and other brand-focused information into our attention or emotional analysis of how consumers shop, interact with mobile devices or watch advertisements. This provides more of 360-degree view of the consumer because while remembering is important, subconscious effects that are difficult for consumers to recall about themselves (what exactly did they look at, how exactly did they feel) still make an impression on the consumer.
3) The new shopping landscape is “buy anything, anywhere.”
Consumers want immediacy and they want everything custom tailored. Older retail models that don’t buy into anytime anywhere are severely challenged in the new marketplace. Just the other day, my younger daughter and I were discussing her sister’s love for peanut butter (and her frustration that her college roommates love it so much so that she often complains it’s gone before she gets any). With Christmas just around the corner, my younger daughter had the bright idea that her sister might get a kick out of receiving some of the good stuff a Christmas present. While driving in the car within minutes of having this conversation, we had ordered a case of her favorite peanut butter and it would be on it’s way to our home in just a few days.
The new three-dimensional structure of buying channels requires a more robust research initiative into the various ways people consume in the “buy anything, anywhere” age. Consumers do price comparisons in stores, and then buy online. Conversely, consumers decide on purchases online and have groceries delivered or have their goods delivered to their car curbside at Target.
4) Big data keeps getting bigger.
Storage is cheap; processing is cheap – so cheap in fact that companies are able to house and store massive amounts of data for very little cost. Data collection devices have increased the pace of data creation, IBM estimates 90% of the data in world has been created in the last 2 years. Every transaction, every event imaginable is being logged and recorded. The silos between the data are being destroyed and with the adoption of Hadoop and NoSQL databases, storing, accessing, and combining vast amounts of data while still challenging is a tractable problem.
Big Data represents an enormous challenge for market research, which is historically based on comparably smaller, point of time data sets. While Big Data is certainly a disruptor that the industry is fully aware of, it also represents a tremendous opportunity for researchers to incorporate real insights from huge datasets with a wealth of information. When this information is shared, incorporating this performance data into research initiatives not only provides deeper context, but a more well-rounded story.
5) As video consumption increases, so does ad spend.
Every statistic about video consumption is on the rise and shows no sign of slowing. YouTube boasts that partner revenue and the number of channels earning six figures on YouTube are up 50% year over year. Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime continue to create compelling content that competes with the traditional networks.
Sure, video is important to consumers, but it’s also key for marketers and advertisers. The Online Publishers Association reports that four of five Internet users recall watching a video ad on a website they visited in the last 30 days. The majority of senior executives state they’d rather watch a video than read written text, according to Forbes Insight. Measuring engagement with video, particularly on mobile devices, is key to understanding its effectiveness on the target audience.
6) In-store experience is more critical than ever.
Being in the business of measuring consumer behavior in stores we know that experience elements have an enormous effect on how much time a shopper spends in store, the amount a shopper spends, and customers’ likelihood to return to that establishment. Businesses are paying attention. This year, we have received an unprecedented number of research requests exploring in-store navigation, usefulness of signage, and zoomed out shopper experience. Retailers are focusing more on what goes on while their customers are in the store and focusing research efforts on the entire experience as opposed to interactions with a given product or category.
The next year looks to be an exciting time for research suppliers and clients alike. As consumers expect a more tailored experience what they watch and how they shop both online and in store, the research providing deep insights into the consumer world will need to be flexible, customizable, and focused on the experiencing-self of customers. Continuing to find new ways to incorporate new technology while creating a cohesive story from a full range of research offerings is now more important than ever.