Editor’s Note: Well, it’s the close of another year and while that means many things to many people, for me it means one of my favorite annual events: our annual year ahead Prediction post!
This year I reached out to 40 of the best and brightest in the Insights & Analytics space and asked them for their predictions for 2017. They delivered in spades, with a deep, broad, and varied set of thoughts on what the year ahead will bring for market research & marketing analytics. There are themes that run through all of these, mainly about the continuing disruption brought by technology to our space, but also about the impact of perceived failures in polling accuracy, changes in consumer behavior, economic factors, and evolving business processes that will continue to reshape our industry.
As always, none of our would-be seers have a crystal ball or a time machine, and we know that predicting the future accurately is a rare trait. However, our soothsayers are experienced business leaders and change agents and are folks I would never bet against based on their stellar bios and accomplishments. I suggest that you take each with a grain of salt and all the open-mindedness you can muster.
Thanks to everyone for playing along in my end-of-year ritual; I hope everyone gets as much out of reading this collection as I do in compiling it!
Mark Simon – Managing Director, North America and Managing Director Digital, Toluna:
Thinking about the business climate, it’s clear that we’re entering a new age of entrepreneurship. Brands are entering the marketplace with great speed and creating new categories with less capital investment, less inventory, and less risk. Our well-established client brands are thinking very differently about the moves they make. They need real-time insight, and to new thinking unfettered by legacy approaches. Research itself will be less linear, more agile, and provide new insights that can help inform all aspects of decision-making.
While as a profession, we’ve been a bit late to automate the market research process, it is automation that will enable us to keep up with the speed of business in 2017 and beyond. We’ve seen our industry adopt automation, and realize efficiencies in programming, sample procurement, and more. The second phase of automation is tackling research methodologies. I have no doubt we will see an acceleration of research automation in 2017.
We’re beginning to embark on the third phase of automation; the interpretation of data. This is an emergent area that will complement rather than replace the skills of the insight professional. We need to realize the efficiencies we’re afforded, and ultimately add more value to the insight we provide as a result. To that end, we’ll see companies begin to tout new ways of obtaining information. We’re seeing market research professionals use passive measurement, and other forms of data to learn more about respondents, create more informed segmentations, gain new insight into behaviors, and ultimately marry demographic, attitudinal, and behavioral data.
Shane Skillen – CEO, Hotspex:
2017 will be a transformational year for insights. The marketing world is rapidly changing. The top 100 CPG brands are in trouble with the majority losing market share and facing declining top line sales. Advertising will continue the rapid shift to digital and although that market is thick with fraud and lack of ROI measurement, Google and Facebook will continue their breakneck growth and become a powerful duopoly. Clients will still massively deploy Zero Based Budgeting which will put downward pressure on demand and prices for marketing and insights services.
Traditional insights will be under serious threat as automation and new labor models meet client needs in faster and cheaper ways. The poster child for automation is ZappiStore which offers good enough insights at a fraction of the price and time. We will also see the rise of a liquid workforce to support automation models (McKinsey’s prediction) where consultants will flock to client projects when needed and not require full time membership at a big insights agency. And so the big traditional agencies will start to lose their grip on long term clients as the alternatives become too attractive to ignore. Lastly, we are close to the end of questions. The truth lies in behavioral data and non-conscious measurement. “Are you going to vote for Hillary?” just doesn’t work and the insights industry will answer with new non-question based methods.
It’s going to be a helluva ride.
Jonathan Price – CEO, Virtual Incentives:
As we review our 2016, we can see the groundwork being laid for an impressive coming year in our industry. We expect to see some key trends in 2017 including:
- A rise in digital gifting and virtual delivery of rewards, which fulfills consumer demand for instantaneous, mobile compatible communications. The mailbox will become a thing of the past, and digital incentives on smartphones will become the norm, not the exception.
- Increased collection and analysis of the massive amounts of data that are now available to us, including reward redemption data which brands can use to better understand their target consumer.
- Our research this past year has shown that personalization is key to recipient satisfaction by strengthening relevancy and engagement. 2017 will see a surge in brands taking advantage of the ability to micro-target personalized messaging to their audience members.
Here’s to a look back at a great 2016, and a look forward to an exciting and innovative 2017!
Jake Wolff – Managing Director, The Americas, Cint:
2017 will be the year that brings major breakthroughs in genuinely tracking a unique, known consumer through the path to purchase, online and offline. Organizations will be able to tap into scalable event-triggered real-time insight capabilities, combining inferred with declared data.
As the lines between market research and AdTech/MarTech continue to blur, expect big steps forward in artificial intelligence, machine learning and API sophistication, leading to easier automation and integration.
Additionally, personally identifiable information (PII) will be a hot topic as market researchers and AdTech/MarTech firms learn to further leverage this information, while remaining compliant to advancing data protection laws, especially in Europe.
Further, the ‘App Store’ concept in the market research space will continue to grow, as can be seen by the fact that ZappiStore is now being joined by Delvinia and ResearchNow.
Alex Hunt – President, Americas at BrainJuicer:
Three predictions for you in 2017…
- If 2016 was the year the insights industry so spectacularly and publicly got so much wrong – evidenced by dismal polling efforts to predict BREXIT and Trump! – then our first prediction is that surely 2017 must be the year that both the general public and senior executives at client-side companies turn the bright, hot spotlight onto our industry and place us all in the last chance saloon; demanding greater precision and guarantees in predictions being made about human behavior by research agencies and corporate insights functions alike.
- Our second prediction is that, for all of us in the insights industry, being held to account for the accuracy of predictions we make about human behavior will make 2017 a painful year. Many agencies and client-side departments will need to re-examine long-held assumptions about how humans make decisions and the tools and frameworks we use to predict them. Yet ultimately, we’d also predict that the saying no pain, no gain holds true – those in our industry who are sufficiently confident in their consumer insights expertize to underscore predictions about human behavior with guarantees of what this means for innovation, advertising or brand-driven growth will recover some of the luster our industry lost in 2016.
- Our third prediction is that in 2017 the only insights agencies that thrive will be those who stand for something distinctive and are willing to take a stand, go to bat, bet big and double-down on their core principles. In 2017 all in the industry should look out for any research firm that has a distinctly clear mission to state and potentially surprising new ways to state it!
Steve Needel – Managing Partner, Advanced Simulations:
We’ll hear more and more about Artificial Intelligence and what we hear will be less and less about tools that are actually AI. These tools will be computer-generated models with statistical algorithms that will be limited in the data they use and don’t mimic human thought in the least.
Parry Bedi – Co-Founder & CEO at GlimpzIt:
The first big wave of technology inspired change in MR was online panels and surveys. The second was moving qualitative techniques such as consumer diaries on to mobile platforms. Data collected through these means, however, still requires an inordinate amount of effort to analyze intelligently. Human brains, to date, have been the only cognitive tools providing this analysis, but the coming of age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies will shift this paradigm completely.
For example, AI today can analyze both pictures and videos through machine learning and reveal not only the content of a visual, but its underlying human sentiment and emotion. In the not so distant future, this technology will enable us to understand audio, text, and any other form of unstructured and structured data to build a holistic picture of a consumer. AI is well on its way to attaining a human level understanding of the world, and in fact, at scale. I believe 2017 will be the year where we will start seeing massive adoption of these technologies.
Kristin Luck -Growth Strategist, Luck Collective:
Since 2010 I’ve contributed to a variety of annual industry predictions. To date, I don’t think any of them have come to fruition. That means I’m either really bad at predicting the future or our industry is moving at a glacial pace. I hope it’s the former and not the latter. In truth, I think as an industry we’re great at talking about the future of research, but really poor at actually moving away from the traditional methods we’re comfortable with and trying new things. And that’s the key to progress. If you really want to change the future of the industry you have to stop predicting, stop dreaming and start doing. Let’s “do” more in 2017. Make a commitment to start taking actionable steps to embrace new methods, experiment with new technologies, and truly commit to challenging the “research as usual” norm in the coming year.
Dave McCaughan – Thought leader and Storyteller at BIBLIOSEXUAL:
You can bet that the same boring themes are going to get too much coverage however there are also signs that some bigger and more important areas will start to get their due. Yes the ridiculous over focus on “millenials” will continue but we are starting to seeing more focus on the bigger areas of ageing opportunity and even better “age neutrality”. “storytelling” has been talked to death but will lead to greater discussion of “narratives”, how to discover the right ones and how to grow them. Ai will move from scare mongering to more innovative discussion about “learning technologies”. and that will in turn be a part of a movement from a rather retro trend to segment and defend research techniques to a more rational consideration of the challenge that has eluded the industry : “integrated modelling” and the removal of the surely antiquated quant/qual, machine learning/human interpretive divides.
Rebecca West, Global Vice President, Marketing Research Services at Civicom:
Market research in 2017 is going to delve into using the latest virtual experience technologies to conduct research. Virtual reality is coming to life in the consumer market this holiday season. A simple TV afternoon of watching the NFL will showcase repeated replays of the Samsung -Oculus blitz of the home consumer gift-buying market for mobile virtual reality. Priced at the relatively affordable $100 range, these new headsets drop the user right into the action of playing bind blowing games, watching movies or travelling through a whole new culture. Schools will transform these vehicles into tolls to teach students history, science and technology. With all of TV media exposure to the wow factor of grabbing onto this technology, virtual reality as of January will have entered the mainstream. Researchers will use virtual reality to assess how people experience products and services.
Market research will also expand the use the data produced by connected technologies. Take the internet of things. After this holiday buying season even more people will own appliances that generate data. We’ll start to see research conducted on the findings produced by Nest cams, coffee makers, and automobiles. We’ll also see data generated by utilities and other services be analyzed by market researchers. Are you getting a monthly online report of your energy use? You could be tapped as a respondent to share your usage history with a researcher who is conducting a study to assess how people make home heating temperature choices, or how well they know how to program the devices that measure these things.
One thing we will not see go away is traditional research. There is still a very large body of clients and researchers who believe strongly that the best way to find out what is going on with consumers or business people is to meet with them personally and talk with them. So the demise of traditional research methodologies is greatly exaggerated.
Melanie Courtright – EVP, Global Client Services, Research Now
- Programmatic MR – serious progress on automating basic MR will occur in 2017. This will lead to better benchmarking and speed, but will mean that easy MR work agencies and people came to rely on will get gobbled up by machines.
- Omnichannel measurement will make significant headway, finally allowing brands to pick up “true” deduplicated reach and frequency at the eyeball level across their media mix.
- Resurgence of quality discussions – with the public polling misses, the increase in programmatic, and the continued mobile evolution, clients are beginning to raise concerns with frame, representativeness, and predictive value. This will bring on the next set of quality tools.
Jim Bryson – President, 20|20 Research:
In 2017 qualitative research will emerge from slow and complicated to fast and easy giving it a valuable seat at the business decision-making table. More and more data is becoming instantly available for marketers to look at populations, segments and individuals. However, mountains of data only tell part of the story. Qualitative research is needed to generate deep understanding of the data mountain. Unfortunately, qualitative does not deliver because it has been slow and tedious to conduct and analyze. So, too many marketers simply skip the qualitative because they don’t have the time or resources. Qualitative platforms, text analytics technology and more efficient processes are changing the game. Now, recruiting, conducting and analyzing qualitative research can be completed in a week or less. Qualitative is finally catching up with the speed of business. In 2017, qualitative will be used more often to make better decisions simply because it will be available in the timeframe to make an impact.
Art Salisch, Research Director, Multi-Market, Hearst Television:
With the world of Local TV measurement being turned upside down by the end of 2017, the key to all will be attribution. Whatever Nielsen and comScore-Local do in the now 140 diary only markets will shape the future of ‘local’. The missing piece for those DMA’s will be Local attribution. What is being proposed and what is being done presently is insufficient for the business. The ‘new world’ of local audience measurement coming in 2018 will be a rocky ride and I’m buying a monthly ticket…
Patricio Pagani – Company Director, Infotools:
We are going to see a big surge in the activity around automation of research processes. From data collection to processing and also the analysis and visualization space. And the trend will continue into 2018 and beyond.
Kevin Gray – President, Cannon Gray LLC:
Barring an economic downturn or other events that cause sudden budget cutbacks, I expect 2017 to be pretty much like 2016. Time traveling a bit further into the future, though, imagine if a consensus emerges that online advertising doesn’t really pay off because of ad blocking, fraud, poor viewability, or narrow targeting? Or, imagine if a consensus emerges that recommender systems and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are actually unprofitable? Now, imagine the disruption…
Simon Chadwick – Managing Partner, Cambiar LLC:
In 2017, the global polling industry may (emphasis on may) finally wake up to the fact that its antediluvian methods are becoming increasingly flawed and turn to the commercial insights industry to introduce them to new ways of thinking. On the commercial side of the industry, automation of standard methodologies will continue apace, thereby commoditizing the survey business more and more as it becomes less and less relevant. The business of impactful insights, however, will experience a renaissance as more clients and providers realize the power of synthesis, particularly as it pertains to the melding of research and analytics. Qualitative and ethnographic methods will continue to gain credence as will new and creative ways of visualizing insights. Leading the way will be video analytics combined with virtual and augmented reality.
Jason Anderson – CEO, InsightsMeta & Dataga.me:
Let me first copy/paste my prediction last year, for 2016:
“I expect 2016 to be the year that political polling in the US goes off the rails. A major prediction “miss” would not be shocking, with political campaigning, social media, phone-based polling, and general angst all swirling together in turbulent ways. In the aftermath of what will almost certainly be an endless parade of polling data, the average person is going to question even more the usefulness and accuracy of survey data. Some of those people are clients and collaborators; I expect to be explaining and defending the virtues of our work for most of the year.”
So, there’s that.
In the shadow of the 2016 election season, sampling methodologies and data collection techniques need to take center stage. The reputation of survey-based data has taken multiple body blows in the public eye, and nothing short of major refactoring of how we collect data is going to heal those injuries. Sacrificial lambs may be necessary. Not everything is politics, but politics has introduced some extremely damaging concepts such as “post-truth.” Absolute facts are being replaced with relativistic ones, which does not bode well for anyone trying to sell the truth.
Todd Kaiser – Marketing Insights Strategist, Association of National Advertisers
Non-response bias and lack of respondent engagement are making it harder to obtain primary data. I believe the trend towards employing marketing research online communities (MROC) will continue. Insights can be developed cobbling together from short surveys. Qualitative discussions boards among relevant sample will allow researchers to glean fast, more reliable insights about the customer journey. If done properly MROC’s become social media sites in the eyes of the consumer.
Marketing talent is another big issue. The marketing field is being disrupted by complex customer journeys and sophisticated MarTech. Finding the talent (or re-training) with the dual marketing and technical skills is going to be an increasing challenge
Lastly, working through the issues of media transparency is going to effect how marketers manage, buy and estimate ROI.
Scott L Lichtenthal – Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton:
Now more than ever, companies rely on analytics to enhance their understanding of their customers and their businesses. The analytics revolution has taken hold, but many managers may feel left behind. This in in part because the tools that organizations rely on to profile customer and market data often unnecessarily complicate rather than inform decisions. The next year is going to be about enabling managers to make better decisions with their market research data by breaking down silos between data sources and simplifying the tools and processes used for translating data into business value. This means investing in better collecting, securing, and integrating diverse quantitative data streams with qualitative, social, and behavioral research. Furthermore, researchers will need to enable the organization to better operationalize and execute through better data science, natural language processing, machine intelligence, and targeting strategies.
Rhoda Makled – SVP, Sensory & Consumer Insights, Q Research:
2017 continues to hold an evolution of several market trends that impact the consumer insights industry.
- Millennial’s and Upcoming Generation Z continue to be a big focus for all Client companies – Millennial’s are growing up and starting families, Generation Z is starting to be at the age where they have their own spending power and are making their own decisions. Trying to engage these two technologically advanced demographic groups will be of great focus. Mobile, gaming, virtual reality and smart technologies (Like Siri, Alexa or Google Home) to collect data on their perceptions will be more of a “must have” than an “nice to have” in the consumer research fields.
- Focus on the environment and health issues is ever evolving – with each generation having a different “definition of health” from – no sodium/less fat to Non-GMO and non-processed and natural and sustainable ingredients for Home & Beauty products – these will keep manufactures on their toes to come up with products that not only deliver on these benefits – but also signal that they have delivered on them. This will complicate the concept fit reads on products and require new ways to measure the trade-offs that consumers are willing to make in profiles in order to have the other benefits.
- Better, faster & lower cost testing solutions to better understand parity results and fit to concept (low cost, fast scalable System 1 techniques to compliment traditional System 2 techniques).
Rudy Nadilo – President, Dapresy North America:
In 2017, we expect to see several market research trends. Among them, will be an increased penetration of customer experience management (CEM) into small-to-medium size businesses (SMBs) as more cost-effective online reporting tools that incorporate “closed loop” reporting are available. In the recent past, these programs were typically $500,000+ and out of reach for the SMB market. With new technology advancements, CEM programs can often be implemented at a fraction of that cost.
In 2017, we will continue to see enterprises demanding new and better ways to democratize information to the entire organization that can be tailored to specific business and organization needs. One PPT report or presenting a single data “view” will be a thing of the past.
Data integration across all key marketing and sales metrics is, and will continue to be, the ultimate goal as organizations overcome the challenge of large data siloes. Successful enterprises will recognize that while these silos are needed for data scientists, they are not meant for enterprise-wide integration and sharing of key information. They will break down these barriers to truly realize the power at hand.
Joel Rubinson – President, Rubinson Partners, Inc.:
2017 will be the year that research and analytics embraces the digital world as user level programmatic marketing is the sea change. If researchers are to be relevant, they must commit to integrating surveys with the company’s digital profiling data in its DMP (now possible). Segmentation will be built to be modeled onto the DMP. Otherwise their insights are mirages in the desert. Marketing effectiveness will increasing be determined using Multi-touch attribution as marketing mix models cannot deliver guidance for programmatic advertising. Brand and comms guidance systems will become much more granular, real time, and leverage digital data as well as surveys. The way we used to operate…all answers contained in a survey of n = 1000 will not exist much longer.
Kathryn Koegel – Director of Content at HookLogic, Inc.:
1) I’m betting on AI driven household ecosystems.
2) The rapid rise of paid voice search taking a bite out of all who do not heed its call, the demand for a gross simplification of the process of connecting online and offline data.
3) Brands scrambling to align with an ecosystem and get micro iOT devices on their products so that CPG staples instantly reorder. Think of the implications of that. Brand marketing becomes a zero sum game.
Charlie Tarzian – Founder & CEO, The Big Willow Inc.:
2017 will be the year that Journey Orchestration Engines (JOE’s) begin to be discussed – these are the underpinnings we will need for people-based marketing and will help marketers understand more of the non-linear journey.
In order to get to this marketers will begin to embrace an agile marketing process and framework – moving towards orchestration and away from point solutions that do not do enough.
Finally, the way this will happen is through the use of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) where we will begin to unite the various point solutions into an interoperable framework – allowing us to move thru adtech to martech and sales enablement
Martech and Sales enablement are making big bets on moving quickly to B2C marketers with Salesforce’s acquisition of Krux signalling this move AND Market’s leap into the fray to show consumer brands it can play at scale.
Great time to be in the biz!
Dag Piper – Head of CTI | Mars Petcare:
- Digital detox will be the big subject and people strive for multisensory /real experiences
- Content marketing moves to context marketing – situational preferences are key
- Products/concepts go hybrid (on and offline) – use the best from both sides to be successful…
Edward Appleton – Director Global Marketing, Happy Thinking People:
I see 2017 as a year where technology will continue to capture attention, drive change – VR, AI for example. Co-operating with those driving change in tech. will be important. At the same time there will be a push towards the experiential, getting closer to the “aha moments” – unfiltered, in the raw. ROI and MR business impact will be written even larger. Qual will likely continue its renaissance, possibly with new partnerships in the larger space of analytics.
Jon Puleston – Vice President Innovation, Lightspeed Research:
- We are going to get better at polling… I thought I would repeat my prediction from last year, being as thought that was so on the nail! I do believe that we learn a lot from failure.
- “AI” will assume the mantle previously held by Big Data and before that Mobile, Social Media Text Analytics & Web2.0 as the most annoyingly over used buzzword in market research in 2017
- A resurgence of Segmentation research. This last year we have witnessed a steady rise in the number of businesses conducting segmentation research. I think this is a trend that is set to grow. With many business having access to so much of their own data, segmentation overlay are a good way of bringing that data to life in an organisation.
Stephen Phillips – CEO, ZappiStore:
The year the large companies push much more aggressively into agility and automation. I get the feeling that this has been a major topic of discussion in 2016 and I expect the larger agencies will start making some bolder moves in this area leaving mid-sized companies worried. They will naturally continue to productize their offerings to fit into this new world and the interesting thing from our perspective is whether they try to build themselves or partner with automation specialists. Either way clients should be looking forward to getting faster, cheaper and better research!!
Nico Jaspers – Co-Founder and CEO at Dalia Research GmbH:
Here are my thoughts for 2017:
- Programmatic/automated sampling goes mainstream
- Continued adoption of mobile/micro surveys & combination with passive data
- Increased VC interest in market research/insights startups
- Behavioral/implicit methods gain more traction/real applications
Overall, I think many of the technologies/approaches that have been talked about in recent years will gain more widespread market adoption and enter the mainstream of research.
Monica Wood – Vice President, Consumer and Distributor Insights, Herbalife:
I think there is continued growth for 2017. Mobile will become increasingly important as a method to collect insights both domestically and globally.
Companies will try to rely on social media analytics for some of their insights needs possibly including trackers (as an extreme case)
Big data analytics and integration with survey data will continue to be increasingly important.
Neuro metrics will continue to hold intrigue and insight.
Pat LaPointe – Managing Partner, Growth Calculus:
Triangulate to Restore Trust. Election polling aberations around the globe are undermining confidence in “traditional” research methodologies in the minds of CMOs. Even those who acknowledge that polling is a far less sophisticated form of exploration than many of the techniques their teams might actually be using will be pressed by their CEO and exec team peers about the reliability of research insights. To boost confidence, CMOs will begin seeking multiple methods of assessing the same key question(s), and value efforts to triangulate on the conclusions that can/should be drawn. Of course they will NOT be inclined to triple their research budget. And over time innovation and technology will help solve the problem with better AI and VR applications. But in the meantime, providers who bring an ability to cost-effectively propose triangulation methods that don’t require the marketer to manage multiple vendor relationships will have an advantage.
Tom Anderson – CEO, OdinText Inc.:
More of the same evolution.
Small-Mid-sized market research firms will continue with irrelevant faux-innovation. Adding to or changing existing methods slightly without any significant experiential knowledge or testing, creating methods that create no additional ROI.
The Honomichl Top 5 will continue with no innovation at all.
A handful of innovators that have technologies that get the job done will receive the vote of approval by client side research departments vis a vis their smaller research budgets. Eventually Honomichl Top 5 will try to acquire some of these so they can remain relevant without having to create anything themselves (or even have to figure out what works or doesn’t on their own).
The opportunity will lie in one of two areas, better proven technologies that actually work and get the job done, and in higher level consulting that leverage this technology for measurable ROI, i.e. smarter, better (and faster) analytics and advice that you can count on.
The rest of traditional market research will slowly continue its current trajectory of commoditization and irrelevance.
Jamie Stenziano – Vice President, Media & Entertainment Research, Clarion Research:
As our insights industry moves into 2017, here are a few trends that will continue to impact and influence both brand and agency alike. Follow @ClarionResearch for the latest on these trends and more as 2017 unfolds.
- The rise of live experiential research: digital and social will drive, not hinder, a brand’s ability to engage in person and live with its audience. In response, there will be a heightened call to the research community for innovative, new ways to mine insights from live experiences.
- Aging Millennials: brands, media companies, and agencies will need to transition their thinking on Millennials as the (our) generation ages. Millennial consumerism and media consumption will evolve, and in response, there will be an strong call to refresh existing data/insights on Millennials to drive decisions for marketers.
- Streamlining primary research: the terms qualitative and quantitative will continue to blur as integrated approaches, new techniques, and new data sources deliver quantitative scale with qualitative flavor.
Fiona Blades – Chief Experience Officer, MESH The Experience Agency:
We will take a leaf out of Mark Earls’s Copy, Copy, Copy: How to Do Smarter Marketing by Using Other People’s Ideas by looking to other industries for inspiration. Swiping and tapping will be in, and typing and clicking will be out in 2017. Geo-intercepting will increase, and we’ll embrace rather than fear automation. Big data will get bigger, but we’ll make some breakthroughs in taming its potential.
With the arrival of programmatic marketing, Marketing Mix will seem old school. Touchpoint sequencing will gain importance.
In 2014, an HBR article asserted that “share of experience” would soon become the most important marketing metric. In 2017, more of us researchers and marketers will pay heed to this prediction.
And finally, following Brexit and the US presidential election results, we’ll take our industry reputation more seriously and actively take positive steps to improve trust.
Josh Chasin – CRO, Comscore:
My two big predictions for 2017:
- Marketers align around the notion that “Big Data” is gauche; migrate to “Moderately Sized Data.”
- With Viewability standards codified, attention turns to “Smellability.”
Also, expect 2017 to be the year of mobile.
Ray Poynter – Managing Director, The Future Place & NewMR:
I think 2017 will be a more of the same year for market research: more mobile surveys, more online communities, and more automation. I think we will see growth in social media, big data, and text analytics – but no breakthroughs. I expect to see the panel companies to continue to try to reinvent themselves, with more analytics, more mobile, and perhaps more qual.
Away from politics, watch out for some widespread weirdness in the USA in August. Across a large part of USA there will be a full solar eclipse on 21 August and I predict that it will bring all sorts of strange people out of the woodwork. 2017 is likely to be cooler than 2015 and 2016 and this will encourage more strange people to dismiss global warming.
The big unknown for 2017 is what will happen to the world economy and world trade. The election of Donald Trump and to a much lesser extent the Brexit vote have delivered a massive question mark about the future. Hopefully Trump will not try to implement most of his more destructive ideas and Brexit will go away or be watered down – but we could be looking at currency instability (making international projects harder), trade wars (reducing the wealth of everybody), and increasingly incompatible laws (e.g. data protection) – we could also be looking an increase in war and terrorism, so let’s hope 2017 turns out better than we fear.
Brian F. Singh, Catalyst, zinc tank:
My prediction for 2017 is not really a prediction, but more a mix of prediction and directive.
Many acknowledge that corporations talk a “big data” game, but few are actually doing it. Many feel that if they have a few segmentation and relationship-driven sorting policies that constitutes a big data-driven algorithm. Such algorithms are rarely different from what we in MR have been doing for ages – looking at segments and data reduction techniques, correlations and parametric modeling – but, the only difference now is this is delivered via machine code. While this is part of the promise of big data, such decision making tools are designed with little social or cultural context. Big data is really about systems thinking.
Much big data is handled by IT departments, as well as entities across organizations where there is limited data literacy beyond core functions. Or recent, my company has done a few data projects. They were quite difficult, yet very rewarding for our clients once delivered. In my experience, here are a few observations/questions/considerations that I found improved to the path to a “big data mindset” and that should be part of 2017 thinking.
- Why exactly do you think that you need a big data approach?
- What changes/behaviours are you hoping to affect?
- What cultural shifts in the workplace are needed to leverage big data across the entire organization?
- Is the social context of how the various forms of data use and its impacts considered?
- Centralization versus Autonomy. Big data typically relies on a data alignment within a single warehouse. There are concerns with this (e.g., finance and accounting, privacy). Thus, consideration for ways to align pertinent data with department/division autonomy and collaboration is required.
- Budget cycles. Often overlooked, big data approaches should best align with estimates and planning (e.g., business, product development, marketing) initiatives.
- Roll out. CRM and enterprise software (e.g., SAP, Oracle) implementations take years. Pilot studies should be pursued as per the six points above and connected to an organization objective is less risky, and learning-by-doing route for a big data initiative.
At its core, big data at its outset is a design exercise. In our diminished jurisdiction, it is my belief that we in the MR business should be champions of data design and guide the contextual use of collecting, storing, compiling, cleaning, analyzing, reviewing and sharing data. (May we become the next Chief Data Architects?) Once we have gone through these challenging steps outlined, then the magic can happen.
In 2017, my hope is for a dialogue on the first principles of data, and a lot more discomfort and internal arguments on the considerations outline above.
Dan Foreman – Director, Hatted:
- There will be some major MR-specific “frenemy” relationships that emerge
- Influencer marketing in MR will become big with significant business authors (amongst others) sitting on more advisory boards, rather publicly
Gregg Archibald – Managing Partner, Gen2 Advisors:
- Corporate research departments will change at an accelerating pace. We will see more and more need for the integration of primary data, internal CRM data, and external data (everything from mobile exhaust to Social Media to competitive intelligence) working together to address business issues. These departments will look a lot more like strategic planning functions than the marketing research department of old. This change has implications for organizational structure and skills internally. It has implications for product and skills from a supplier perspective.
- The imaginary line that distinguishes qualitative research from quantitative research will get much fuzzier. The knowledge created by qualitative is more important than ever (see U.S. election prognostications) but only if they come at a scale that can be generalized. Also, we will come up with a much better name for this category than “quali-quant”! Perhaps we can start the initiative to rename this in the comments section. My vote – Deep Quant.
Leonard Murphy – Executive Editor & Producer, GreenBook & Senior Partner, Gen2 Advsiors:
For 2017, it’s less about “new” and more about the continuation of trends that have been in motion since 2015, picked up steam in 2016 and will become major drivers of shifting industry dynamics in 2017.
- Consolidation & Investment: Private Equity loves markets in disruption, so look for a wave of consolidation focused M&A activity driven by PE funds. VC’s love disruption as well, so there will continue to be healthy investment into early stage companies playing in the insights space. Most of them will be a variation of prediction 2 below.
- Automation & AI: They are game changers, not just buzz topics, because they are disrupting an inefficient process by making it faster and cheaper and “good enough”. That is hard for a client to argue against so look for continued growth and budget/project volume shifts to a variety of new players, or old players making forays into automation and AI.
- Qual: As a reaction to prediction 2 as well as the polling missed calls, look for a focus on “consumer closeness” methods, most of which will be more qualitative in nature. Qual in all forms, from MROCS to In-person Groups and mobile Ethnography to Netnography will thrive and become more important for adding context to more automated quant work.
- Nonconscious: As consumer tech includes more and more cameras, sensors, behavioral measures and biometric data nonconscious measures will scale and become ubiquitous due to speed and cost efficiency and insight impact.
- VR: Some very cool and kick-ass VR applications for research will emerge this year. We’ll see VR emerge as a common tool in most research facilities but especially for simulated store testing, CLTs, focus groups, MROC’s, etc.. We’ll see the beginning of new research form factors begin to develop and ideas around gamification will also gain prominence as we experiment with the possibilities of immersive virtual environments for research.