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36 Market Research Thought Leaders On Predictions for 2018

In our annual "Predictions" feature, over thirty thought leaders in the insights & analytics space share their predictions for what 2018 has in store.

And so another year draws to a close, and that means it’s time to engage in one of our favorite traditions: the annual attempt at prognostication by a collection of some of the best and brightest in the market research industry! This year 36 folks submitted their predictions using their choice of either text or video (provided by our friends at LivingLens) and we’ve compiled them in the following post for your edification.

Now let’s get the obvious out of the way: there’s no way we could accurately predict what is going to happen, and you should be very skeptical when people claim otherwise. Even when using data and advanced analysis techniques, there will always be bias and imperfection in the analyses. No one is claiming that these are guaranteed to come true, but to some degree everyone here is placing bets on the probability of them coming true.

Of course everyone here must admit to having a subjective point of view, but these predictions are valuable because that subjectivity is informed by experience, performance, intelligence and by monitoring the industry and its news for the past year. We have all tried to leverage these resources to highlight what are the most important trends going forward.

So, without further ado, here are the predictions on trends we will be keeping an eye on in 2018.


Pedro Almeida, Founder & CEO – MindProber:

  1. Automation will speed up and gain terrain. As the value of automation becomes clear to clients and threatens traditional research, we may see a tendency for acquisitions of automation startups by major research companies (or at least significant equity investments). In addition, the need to generate insights from the data collected through automated pipelines will be a driving force for the adoption of AI.
  2. Emergence of blockchain-based research companies. We may also see market research related ICOs, depending on whether or not these are taken out by the regulatory bodies.


Tom Anderson, CEO of OdinText:

2018 The Best of Times & The Worst of Times:

The gap between what I’ll call ‘Just Traditional Research’ and more flexible, fluid and advanced ‘Advanced Analytics Generalists’ will continue to grow.

There are three groups of marketing researchers along this dimension. Some ‘Just Traditional’ researchers and companies will not be able to adapt and will want to continue doing just the focus groups or panel surveys they have been doing and will become increasingly out of touch.

A second group will feign expertise in these not so new areas of data and text mining (Advanced Analytics), they will prefer to call it “AI and Machine Learning” of course, but without any meaningful change to their products, services or analysis. It will be a sales and marketing treatment only.

For both two groups the future is dim indeed.

A third group of researchers, the group OdinText is invested in, don’t get better because they realize they must get better, but because they are genuinely curious. They don’t just want to run that survey a little faster and a little cheaper, they want more than that. They want to add real value for their company via their analysis.

They will invest in learning new tools and techniques, and yet will not expect these tools to magically do the work for them after they push a button. These are not lazy employees, they are A type professionals, and they are the future of what marketing research is to become.

They realize their own ingenuity and sweat need to be coupled with the new technology to achieve a competitive advantage and surpass expectations and their competition. And they are excited by those prospects.

I too am very excited about meeting and working with more of these true ‘Advanced Analytics Generalists and the MR Supplier firms who realize Co-Opetition with other firms with key strengths make sense. For these ‘New Data Scientists’, no these ‘Next Gen Market Researchers’ 2018 will be the best of times!


Amy Anthony, Director of Consumer Insights – Lowes:

  1. We will move from real time research to right time research—not that quick results won’t be important but finding those insights in the moment of tension or delight will become even more important and technology, such as wearable biometrics, will allow us to understand emotions at the most important moments of a consumer’s decision making process.
  2. The connected shopper will become the norm versus multiple connected data points that we try to fit together. Mobile technology will allow for us to connect the shopper journey from awareness to consideration to buy to repeat.


Edward Appleton, CMO of Happy Thinking People:


Gregg Archibald, Managing Partner, Gen2 Advisors:

  1. Forces that are changing marketing will continue to change marketing research. At it’s core, there is more one-to-one marketing (the barrier of distance is being removed, CRM and feedback systems are more robust, programmatic advertising, etc.) and is therefore more effective but more complicated. Research will make strides to adapt by integrating both the digital data and location-based data in the shopper journey, make the feedback systems more real-time and actionable in the moment, and implement new systems of ad development, testing, and optimization that work synchronously with brand planning.
  2. More testing research will move into marketing organization and away from the marketing research organization. As DIY, automation, and AI grow in their sophistication and ease of use – it will be easier for the layperson to conduct high quality testing research without the market research intermediary.
  3. The ‘big ideas’ are at the heart of a brand’s strategy. To get to the ‘big ideas’, we will use more and more of the multiple attitudinal and behavioral data streams that exist. Data synthesis and the ability to understand the synthesis is becoming increasing important to understand the nuances.  More focus will be given to meta-analysis, both at the analytic and strategy levels.


Jessica Azoulay, Vice President Operations, Isobar Marketing Intelligence Practice:

2018 will be about the convergence of research methods.  As the ante continues to rise on true research impact, one method or approach is longer good enough.  Marketers understand there is no one perfect solution and instead expect to employ multiple techniques, even within the same project.  Long gone are the days of labeling projects as qualitative, quantitative, automation or biometrics – in its place are projects labeled by business issues that are solved by a barrage of techniques.  The challenge for researchers is now focused on integrating the results from all of these methods into an understandable, compelling and actionable set of recommendations.


Rafael Cespedes, CEO Provokers Chile:

My Predictions for 2018 are:

  • Global… the influence of AI will increase.
  • Regional… the big 4 (IPSOS, GFK, KANTAR, Nielsen…) will see a decline in their business, but they will make more profit via Digital transformation
  • Regional in LATAM… finally the MR market will be based more on DIGITAL. Online Panels will really start to make money and also online communities have new opportunities with the clients in LATAM.


Jonathan Deitch, Chief Revenue Officer of P2 Sample:

2018 will be the year Programmatic 2.0 becomes a reality, and it can’t come fast enough. The industry is still only just coming to grips with Programmatic 1.0, which allowed us to get faster and cheaper, but not necessarily better. Programmatic 2.0 will touch every aspect of online research, from acquisition to pricing and feasibility to execution, enabling massive improvements in data quality, respondent engagement, fraud detection, and operational dependability. 2018 is the year that sampling automation becomes a significant competitive advantage.


Adam Froman, CEO of Delvinia Group:


Alejandro Garnica, Director of ARIA and Executive VP of AMAI:

Let’s hope 2018 advances with the AAA acronym (that should be a good mix, not only a list):

  • Agility
  • Affordability
  • Accessibility


Kevin Gray, President Cannon Gray LLC:

I lean towards long-term predictions, because people are more forgiving when you’re badly wrong, as I hope I am here. Marketing research has historically focused on data collection, and analysis has typically been simple. This applies to qualitative as well. In some ways, MR was ahead of its time, though, in the sense that the ability of decision makers to use data for decision making has lagged the capacity to collect it. There have been notable exceptions, of course, manufacturing being one example.

Now the data industry is much larger and MR is increasingly a small part of it. One can argue that MR is being absorbed into data science, qual included. Many of my contacts working in marketing research-related areas are programmers and software developers. Many are adept at selling, but know little about marketing or research. They usually do not refer to themselves as marketing researchers. Ironically, I advocated that MR move into what’s now called data science when data warehousing and ERP were the buzz, but our industry had other priorities at the time. By 2030, there probably will still be people calling themselves marketing researchers but far fewer than now, I suspect.

Whatever we call ourselves, the key survival as a marketing researcher will be going beyond mechanical data collection, simple analysis and interpretation, and plugging the gaps increasingly sophisticated AI and machine learning – and human data scientists – leave behind. Those able to design primary quantitative research who have a good grasp of statistics, as well as marketing and business generally, will be at an advantage, as will top-notch qualitative researchers.


Jeffrey Henning, PRC, CEO of Researchscape International:

Survey researchers will continue to write questionnaires that don’t reflect research-on-research best practices, while lamenting the fact that no one pays attention to their research. Panel companies will continue to field long dreadful surveys, because none of them can afford to say no to business, even bad business that burns out their panelists. Corporate researchers will continue to sacrifice quality for affordability, because some information is better than no information. And, for all of these reasons and more, technology companies will continue to steal market share from traditional research agencies.” –


Alex Hunt, President of System 1 Research: 


Janet Kosloff, CEO and co-founder of Incrowd:

We are seeing more incremental changes when it comes to the mix of traditional and innovative technologies in market research. And we are seeing the potential for huge shifts through consolidation and partnerships between different kinds of companies serving the industry. All of it bodes well for helping market researchers do their jobs even more effectively in 2018.

A major trend I expect to see in 2018 is the increased use of innovation and technology to get behavioral insights. Good researchers are looking for the truth. Traditional research methods often require setting up a session of direct questioning in a constructed environment. Technology, on the other hand, speeds up the delivery of information and the range of behavioral data that can be collected through improved user experience design and automation. Researchers get data in real time, as doctors give answers on a schedule that suits them. A great example is in the use of imagery to elicit an emotional reaction to stimuli in surveys. Physicians make tough therapeutic decisions on a daily basis. Their experience with removing emotion from the equation is reflected in the answers to survey questions they may be presented with. Images can help them best identify answers that reflect emotions to get them past their nature and get the most accurate information.


Jeff Krentz, Executive Vice President of WPP:

Automation will significantly accelerate its momentum and impact across the industry from scoping the insights brief to data collection through forecasting/prediction and reporting.    As or more importantly, clients will increasingly expect to see the outputs of our work integrated into their enterprise systems to enable automated decision making (eg pricing, promotion, supply chain management, etc.).


Gary Laben, CEO, Research Now;

Market research data will take center stage and play a significant role in the broader marketing services continuum, enabling marketers (finally) to realize authentic insights based on real-time consumer sentiment.  This will help brands to engage with consumers when they are most receptive to engagement, in their preferred channel.  The inclusion of data from opted-in, verified research panelists to the big-data marketing mix will bring the true voice of the consumer to inform insights, enable more precise audience activation and engagement, identify paths to purchase more accurately, and bring marketers to the promised land of true, verifiable cross-media measurement.


Jamie Lang, Senior Project Director at KL Communications:

On January 1st of every new year, market research industry professionals can anticipate exciting new methods to better understand their target customers and develop successful products for the marketplace. Market research trends in 2018 are progressing swiftly and promising great results.

As was true when 2017 began, holds great promise, and it’s possible that an AI breakthrough could forever disrupt marketing. In addition, the following three trends should have a profound influence on how your company executes market research in 2018 and beyond.

  1. A New Paradigm: At the start of 2018, a long-dominant marketing model appears to be all but obsolete. Since the dawn of mass production, commerce has stuck to a basic pattern. First, a company or an entrepreneur would devise and create a certain item. It might be a completely new invention, or it might be an existing product with some twist or improvement. It was then up to market researchers to figure out how to tell consumers about that item and persuade them to buy it.

However, in recent years, the explosion of digital sales and social media has given rise to different expectations among the public. People now presume that brands will interact with them and listen to their ideas. As a result, a new commercial paradigm has been taking shape.

Under this model, companies must take the time to really engage from the outset. Thus, instead of devising new products on your own, you should figure out exactly what your customers are looking for. And, of course, you should craft your goods according to those needs and desires.

These days, market research takes place before, during and after the development of a new product. Going forward, this research will be central to the conceptualization and creation of all new consumer products.

When it comes to learning everything you can about your potential customers can be invaluable. After all, this process involves a vigorous and ongoing dialogue with a group of knowledgeable consumers while a product is conceived, tested, reworked, patented, finalized and sold.

  1. Social Media Insight Software: Last year, we said that social media listening programs would be one of the major market research industry trends in 2017. Such software analyzes how people talk about your company on the internet. Given the primacy of the market-driven paradigm, 2018 will call for even more expansive and precise social media research techniques.

You should keep purchasing the latest available  programs. They’re growing more sophisticated all the time, and they’ll let you sift through the vast collections of opinions, ideas and complaints that social media channels contain.

These programs will also spot trends and patterns, and they’ll collate comments that pertain to your company and its activities. In so doing, they’ll help your team turn that raw data into designs and blueprints.

Your co-creators can assist you in evaluating the tips and criticisms you glean from social media platforms. Which points do they agree and disagree with? Which ideas do they feel are practical? Which are outlandish?

  1. The Lifecycle Technique: With online shopping, customers can patronize just about any store or company anywhere in the world. How, then, do you make sure that people choose yours and keep buying from it again and again? One answer is to depend on lifecycle management software, which should prove crucial in the decades ahead.

This holistic form of marketing involves a continuing conversation with consumers. Market researchers must develop clear, concise, convincing and integrated messages, and as time goes on, they must keep repeating them in creative ways on various platforms.

As soon as people have purchased something from you, you can start to earn their loyalty and repeat business through a range of tactics. Those strategies include emailing and texting them discount codes and using automation to send personalized social media messages on holidays, birthdays and other special occasions.

To ensure you’re using the best possible marketing tactics, you should first talk to your customers to help organize your lifecycle marketing methodologies. Find out what might attract them to a company and what kinds of online materials they would view as appealing and credible. Further, what types of messages and deals would entice those individuals to become repeat customers?

In short, there’s never been a more exhilarating time to keep up with market research trends. With any number of dazzling digital tools at your disposal, you’ll always have a vivid sense of what shoppers wish for and dream about. Here’s to a prosperous and insightful 2018.


Kristin Luck, Growth Strategist – Luck Collective:

As we see more industry disruption from new technologies like IBM’s Watson and firms like Fizziology, who are finally decoding social media data, I feel 2018 could be a breakthrough year for market research as it relates to AI and machine learning. I see AI and machine learning becoming more practical and useful for researchers, automating some jobs (like data collection and data management) and augmenting others (like pricing research), combining machine learning and big data for fresh insights. If you are a software or technology driven company and are not thinking about adding some type of intelligent AI layer on your product or service, then start thinking and DOING in 2018……your competitors likely are.


Roseanne Luth, CEO of Luth Research:

I am still spinning due to the incredibly fast paced, astonishing transformations, meteoric start-ups and many more mergers and acquisitions in the year 2017.  It is possible and surely probable that the Market Research industry will continue at an even faster pace than in 2017.  HANG ON!


Elissa Moses, CEO of Ipsos Neuro and Behavior Science:

Researchers, are getting more courageous in experimenting and risking change. The new technologies, for example Neuro and VR, are just too exciting not to jump in and try. This in turn will change beliefs about data trust. Whereas in the past we may have insisted on only testing a real shelf, virtual may be seen as good for decision making, easier to implement and more affordable. It’s similar to the shift from finished film to testing animatics, as technology improves so does trust.

Market research is forming tighter bonds with academia as the balance shifts and marketing starts to be thought of as more science than art.  Mining large data sets and machine learning make modeling more accessible for determining success drivers for ads, concepts, packages etc. We know so much more now than we did a few years ago about what drives a successful add for instance based on neuro analyses of Cannes and Effie winners using EEG and Facial Coding – – the more emotions the better, change in emotion is better than only positive emotion, intense engagement in the final product shots are essential, etc. All make for guidelines to success. It is only a matter of time before there are new rules for all types of content.


Leonard Murphy, Executive Editor – GreenBook & Senior Partner- Gen2 Advisors:


Steve Needel, CEO of Advanced Simulations:

Our relative inability to predict complex behavior will continue in 2018, including many of the thoughts in this compendium of predictions. Forecasting is hard, especially when it involves the future, said Neils Bohr, and he should know. I think we’ll see continued growth in automating what we can automate, but we will go too far with this and pull back a bit when we realize it. The decline in neuromarketing will continue until we see a breakthrough in the ability to relate physiological reactions to mundane consumer purchases, and that won’t happen in 2018. We will continue to misuse the term Artificial Intelligence but will happily employ machine learning, sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly. My 5-year quest to vanquish the concept of Shopper Journey in favor of a model of shopping behavior that actually does something (and is not explainable by Taylor Swift’s dating advice) will continue. Finally, Lenny will get on the board of four more companies, vying with Dan Foreman for the lead in directorships; he will lose out when one of these folds.


Wale Omiyale, SVP, Market Research at Confirmit:

  • Agile MR and an increase in automation will continue to bring shortened timelines and faster turnarounds to clients. To accommodate this ever-increasing demand, MR companies must introduce automation in order to continuously improve time to market.
  • 2018 will bring technology and methodological advancements related to emotion detection, allowing people to gain insight based on emotional appetite or response, instead of simply asking straightforward questions. In 2018, we’ll see models being built around the concept of emotion capture – demonstrating how it is being increasingly accepted as a valid business tool.
  • Text analytics has already got a strong foothold and will continue to be a necessity, but will extrapolate even further in the future. In the MR industry, we’ll continue seeing more experimental programs and fully paid-out studies regarding text analytics and its importance in gaining actionable insights.
  • Forward-thinking MR agencies will continue to grow their roles as strategic business advisors. As well as providing guidance on what data means, and how it should be used, MR companies will evolve their storytelling skills to help clients better understand the insights behind the stats, and help them to make the right business decisions, backed up by solid research.
  • There will likely be more dialogue about the necessity of true research in a world where fake surveys are all too common place. The industry as a whole will push all organizations to be more responsible with their survey data and methodology.


Frederic – Charles Petit, CEO Toluna:

It’s clear that we are hitting an inflection point in the market research industry, one that needs to be addressed by an entirely new solution, especially in today’s on-demand economy.

Agile and innovative companies of all sizes – not just giants like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google – will continue to find new ways of providing real-time, on-demand value to consumers or disappear, and in the meantime they need to obtain dynamic real time insights and move past the old way of static, rear view-focused market research data.

Incremental improvements in market research as in many industries has shown to be clearly insufficient to address these realities.

Our clients need an entirely new way of obtaining consumer insight. This is what we call Insights on Demand and we believe that the emergence of Insight On Demand will be the key development for our industry in 2018.

Insight  on Demand promotes the tight integration between technology and brands to provide real-time insights to organizations – no matter their size, or timeliness of need.

Let me be clear that this is not just SaaS or Saasish applied to market research.

Who really needs a survey tool today even if it is DIY or cloud based?

Brands and businesses are like consumers, they need delivery the insight in 2 hours at their doorsteps.

At the era of the on Demand Economy (Airbnb, Amazon Prime, Marketo and the list is endless crossing all industries established and new), what is needed is ongoing access to real-time, evolving consumer feedback driven by cost-effective technology that automates the delivery of those insights to speed up the decision-making process.

Consumer sentiments shift by the day if not the hour and you cannot rely anymore on data that is out-dated before even it shipped to you.

Insights on Demand is the way forward, it is what will transform and expend our industry. It is bigger than market research as we know it because it’s broader and accessible to more clients. Whether it is better is a question equivalent to saying whether a car is better than a carriage: it is a question of century, so clearly Insights on Demand is better for the 21st century.


Stephen Phillips, CEO ZappiStore: 


Ray Poynter, Managing Director of The Future Place & NewMR:

I will restrict myself to a few points:

  • Automation is going to be the main trend in research in 2018, with some interest in image and video, but lots of interest text, data analytics, and project implementation.
  • I expect changes amongst the top 20, perhaps the top 10, with difficulties for some, and mergers/acquisitions for others.
  • For Europe, the main challenge will be GDPR – with some problems stemming from this globally too.
  • For North America, I think we will see a small reduction in the use of cutting edge techniques (e.g. VR and neuro) in preference for fast, cheap and automated research.
  • Outside of Europe and North America, I think the focus will be on China and Japan, with financial pressures for most other markets.
  • The hottest companies will be focused on video (from capture to analysis).


Jon Puleston, Vice President of Innovation, Lightspeed Research:

England are going to win the World cup!

And here is why.

…And I look forward to Dan Foreman celebrating my amazing forecasting skills in his review of the accuracy of our predictions next year!


Aaron Reid, CEO of Sentient Decision Science:


Dave Sackman, CEO LRW:

The industry was slow to get to this place, but it is now appropriately applying technology to developing new capabilities, applying technology to make research faster and less expensive, and focusing on storytelling and visualization. While the industry is focusing on the right things, I continue to believe there will be a few winners (at LRW, we’re expecting to double over the three years from 2015 through 2018) but a lot of losers.

While many are focused on new areas like Big Data, they are not integrating these new data streams along with survey results to come up with a better, fully synthesized answer. Different data streams must be integrated and synthesized to best solve client problems. Merely being able to do separate assignments with separate data streams gains you a little, but far less than what’s possible.

While many are working to improve data visualization skills, most are just making reports prettier and more artful. Instead design skills should be used to enhance the storytelling.

While many talk about storytelling, few really are analyzing the data in a synthesized fashion to draw conclusions that they weave into a story about the actual actions clients should take to create real impact, truly improving performance results.

While some are successfully using automation to improve speed and cost, few are really using technology to improve the intellectual process, while also improving speed and cost. Many talk about AI and Data Science but few have the skills to accomplish the real goals. Exhaust for equipment closet We’ll see a scramble for people to develop these skills, which all the tech startups want too, creating a great deal of competition for the best and the brightest.

Bottom line prediction: Continued industry slow growth with more losers than winners, but those who successfully traverse these changes, often making big, bold moves, will thrive and continue to experience dynamic growth.


Ron Sellers, President at Grey Matter Research & Consulting:

Predictions for a one-year time frame are challenging because major changes generally take place more slowly; fast changes usually are the result of something entirely unexpected (e.g. an economic crash, a major tech breakthrough).  But here goes:  Relations will deteriorate noticeably between Traditionalists who believe in long-used methodologies such as focus groups and surveys, and Distrupters who espouse “nextgen” methods such as big data, biometrics, and behavioral economics.  Increasingly, each side will attack the other as ineffective, out of touch, or unproven, claim that only their side is right, and latch on to individual anecdotes of failure to criticize methodologies they don’t like.  Sales efforts will more commonly attack competing methodologies rather than promoting the benefits of their own; social media discussions will become harsher and more critical, and more people will take sides and cast aspersions rather than keeping an open mind and believing that a variety of tools – including new and traditional – can and should be applied as individual situations warrant.


David Shanker, Past CEO America’s – Lightspeed Research:

With the US stock markets booming and tax reform being enacted for the first time in a long time, one could expect rapid growth in 2018 for the Market Research Industry.  And while growth will continue for some, it won’t materialize for all.

If we’ve learned anything, we’ve learned that those Agencies that best leverage technology and automation are the Agencies that have the best ability to win.  They are disrupting and in doing so they are turning heads and budgets.

Why? Because corporate marketers (and everyone else) want (everything) faster, better and cheaper. Keeping price off to the side, faster and cheaper are in part enabled by using technology and new tools to meet client demands. We have seen many examples of companies doing just this over the last few years. They are innovating and they are winning. We will see more of this in 2018 as capital should be readily available for those who have a vision of how to use technology to change and disrupt market research.


Sarah Snudden, Consumer Insights at Keurig Green Mountain:

Automation will continue to scale.  Brand/equity/ad tracking will remain a key ‘pain point’ and  ‘problem to solve’ struggling to blend ask/observe and rational/emotional responses.  Social listening, AI and big data will continue to be important forces that the client-side world will continue to grapple with.  Small, scrappy, differentiated little fish will continue to take bites out of the big meaty fish (both in terms of vendors and competitors).  Using great storytelling to bring data to life in an attention-challenged world will remain an important skill to hone.  IIeX will continue to evolve as the ‘Early Adopters’ tell more people and the ‘Early Majority’ begins to take note.


Richard Thornton, COO and Deputy CEO at Cint:

3 key trends in 2018:

  1. Cleaning of the house: In many ways, 2018 will be the year of compliancy. GDPR is casting a huge shadow over the insights/MR industry and in many ways will separate the men from the boys when it comes to capabilities and doing things at scale. It will completely disrupt the advertising and marketing technology eco-systems and should provide opportunities for market research vendors who have typically built products and services around permission-based processes.   Personally see this as a positive as it will flush out players not adding value or operating black box businesses around consent.
  2. Machine Learning: Next year also expect to see the continued shift from big data to the “right data” and AI being the catalyst driving that evolution. AI is, and will continue, to enhance programmatic buying in sampling and enable smarter capabilities and the need to ask fewer questions per survey, but more frequent touchpoints with consumers as a result.
  3. Data strategies maturing in MR: Built around fusing ‘observed’ with ‘declared’ data sets and moving from insight to foresight with it. Underpinning data strategies will be using data in a more real-time agile way and tying that to (customer journey) events, which is going to also swing the pendulum back to double-opt-in, profiled, recontactable panels where profile value and on-going engagement is key.


Hunter Thurman, President – Thriveplan:

We’re now in the “late 2010’s” – the tail end of this decade. And anthropological study reveals that historically each decade has consistently been represented by one of the 3 social need states that shape every society. The current decade – the 2010’s – has been marked by a dramatic rejection of social norms, and behavior that’s subconsciously compelled by the desire to shake up the status quo. As we transition towards the 2020’s, people will experience a subconscious desire to re-establish their individual identities, and behave in ways that are “true to one’s self” vs. assimilating with broad societal conventions. Essentially, instead of “running from society” as culture has in the 2010’s, they’ll be “running towards individualism” as we ease into the 2020’s.

This means that, more and more, people will reward brands that provide the ability to show what makes each person unique, and gain social credit for it. They’ll expect media to speak to them as individuals, not cohorts. And they’ll look for experiences that celebrate this “walk to the beat of your own drummer” mindset. As Gen Z comes of age, they’ll be marked by these characteristics, and most will assume that it’s the hallmark of this generation. But in reality, it will simply be the 1960’s and 1990’s happening again, just as behavioral science predicts…


Melinda Han Williams, VP of Data Science and Analytics, Dstillery:

2018: the Year of AI De-mystification

As the research industry turns its attention to data science, 2018 will be the year to cut through the hype on AI. AI is not magic, but a very powerful tool; and when you have truly large amounts of data, it is the only tool that can take full advantage of all that information. In 2018, AI will live up to its potential to find valuable consumer insights for marketer and brands. But most brands willingly admit they don’t understand what AI is, or what it can do for them.

Through the recent years of Big Data, our industry has encountered the classic problem of the data firehose. The bigger and more granular your dataset, the more likely it contains some gem of information, but it is also much more likely that you’ll be lost at sea trying to find it. In the space of digital advertising, the sea is extremely granular observed behavioral data – the web content we consume, the apps we use, the things we tweet, the locations, the things we buy, and the ads we see. This unobstructed view of the consumer frees us from the limitations of traditional survey data: consumers honesty, memory, and introspective ability. But unlike a traditional market research, it doesn’t provide us with any direction of where to look. The insights hidden in granular observational data are incredibly powerful, but only visible and comprehensible through the lense of AI.

At Dstillery, our data scientists have been actively deploying Machine Learning and AI for 9 years. We are best known for applying these tools to the optimization of programmatic media. In the course of analyzing billions of data points in the online journeys of hundreds of millions of customers for the purpose of identifying the right prospect and the right media opportunity, our models discover deep insights that can inform marketing and brand strategy decisions well beyond media execution.

We believe, that in 2018 AI will emerge, not as some miraculous alchemy pulling the proverbial rabbit out of a hat, but as a workhorse tool for generating insights from the vast signals across the internet. AI and machine learning will give brands new ways of finding meaningful and actionable stories, and discovering new unique consumer audiences. Once the power of AI is understood and the myths are dispelled, we predict it will become the preferred method for for brands to generate insights that fuel more effective marketing decisions that drive brand growth.


Kristi Zuhlke, CEO of Knowledgehound:

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One response to “36 Market Research Thought Leaders On Predictions for 2018

  1. Given a thriving economy, coupled with the anticipated boom impacted by corporate tax cuts, corporations will become more aggressive in the areas of new products and innovations.

    Market researchers who want to get a seat at the table will need to become more conscientious and proactive regarding their company’s product innovations agenda, and step up with newer and more improved techniques, tool-kits, and orientations to strategic solutions geared to reducing the perennial 80% new products failure rate.

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