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61 More Predictions for 2016 by Research Industry Thought Leaders

Why settle for 55 predictions when we can have 116, submitted by 62 thought leaders from across virtually all segments of the industry? Today we bring you Part 2, with another 61 predictions to think about as you plan for the year ahead.

Last week we posted Part 1 of our annual predictions by industry thought leaders. It was a collection of provocative, insightful, and realistic assumptions on what 2016 may likely hold for the market research industry. You can find that here:

Part 1 of our annual predictions

Why settle for 55 predictions when we can have 116, submitted by 62 thought leaders from across virtually all segments of the industry? Today we bring you Part 2, with another 61 predictions to think about as you plan for the year ahead.

A note to naysayers out there. Yes, all predictions are prone to errors; to my knowledge, none of our contributors are psychic or time travelers, so of course they should be taken with a gran of salt. However, we reached out to proven leaders who are experts in their specific areas of business focus and are tasked with driving the insights industry related strategy for their organizations (most of the supplier-side contributors are CEOs and bet the farm every day on their predictions). Is there some bias and even (gasp!) agenda promotion in these? Of Course there is! But that doesn’t make them any less valid. In fact, I would argue that a subject matter expert who is absolutely immersed in a specific topic/technology/method/business has a higher chance of accurately predicting future trends related to their specialization than a generalist.

So, dismiss these at your peril. My money is being placed on most of these predictions.

By the way, if 116 predictions are not enough for you, Bob Lederer just published his RBR 20th Annual Predictions Issue:

My good friend Todd Powers suggested that we change things up next year by scoring the accuracy of these predictions, which I think is sounds like a fun idea, so look for something related to that in the future. In the meantime, enjoy the brilliance on display here!


Gregg Archibald, Managing Partner, Gen2 Advisors:

  1. Legislators and the industry will continue to talk about the need for privacy and consumers will continue not to care – as evidenced by their behavior. As we have seen with the advent of the e-commerce (and even before), convenience trumps privacy.
  2. The marketing department will continue to do more and more research. As DIY platforms become easier to implement and understand – the need for research specialists will decline.
  3. Clients will continue to be pushed to do more for less. In order to accomplish this, we will see the following changes:
    • growth (and definition) around agile research
    • the continued rise of “good enough” research – with all the implication about sample, methodology, costs, and timing that “good enough” implies.
    • Meta-analysis driven by better tools to understand available information – not necessarily creating new information.


JD Deitch, Chief Operating Officer, Ask Your Target Market (AYTM):

  1. The dominos start to fall as the industry’s biggest clients start pulling 7 and 8 figure contracts with legacy research companies because they realize they can get the same or better quality at a fraction of the cost and they’re ready to feel the pain of a trend break. Expect to see some big research cos start to retrench.
  2. Legacy sample and panel companies, namely those who still think people want to do stuff for proprietary, non-cumulable incentives and are still willing to do long boring non-mobile-friendly surveys start to lose massive market share as exchanges and other sources take their place. We’ll see at least one or two big companies really struggle because they’re on the old model.


Fiona Blades, President and Chief Experience Officer, MESH, The Experience Agency:

  1. Whilst the need for speed and real-time research will undoubtedly continue, as will the big data deluge, there will be a backlash too. Slow, resourceful research will find a role:  research which re-analyses existing data sets to uncover new truths with time being invested in thinking, brainstorming and collaborating.
  2. We’ll remember that one fundamental insight which is uncovered by client and agency in their journey together and spreads throughout the organisation is worth more than 100 findings which everyone forgets.


Jeff Resnick, Managing Partner, Stakeholder Advisory Services:

  1. The business environment will become increasingly hostile for companies that fail to keep pace with change. While there is general recognition of the need to change, many firms have yet to start the journey.  In 2016, the economic pressure on firms trying to maintain the “status quo” will cause substantial cracks in their business sustainability.  The most successful firms will be driven either by excellence of insights or mastery of emerging technologies for the gathering, analysis and/or delivery of information to drive insights.


Ron Sellers, President, Grey Matter Research & Consulting, LLC:

  1. The next year will see much more of the same – Luddites fighting any new approach or technology; True Believers telling us how each new approach or technology (largely the ones they sell) will replace surveys/focus groups/IDIs etc. and completely eliminate them from use within a year or two. The reality will be somewhere in-between:  good researchers carefully evaluating the new techniques with an eye towards adding them to the tool box while continuing to conduct lots of valuable surveys, focus groups, IDIs, and other traditional approaches, and bad researchers falling in love with some approach (new or traditional) and wanting to use it for everything (but doing it poorly).
  2. Unfortunately, there will be even more bad researchers, as tight budgets and timelines mean more and more non-researchers “do research,” not fully understanding sampling, methodologies, and other basics of insights.


Fredric Charles Petit, CEO, ITWP:

  1. In 2016 we’ll see the true digitalization of market research due largely in part to companies needing to focus less operational processes, and more on providing consultative services to clients. Companies must find a way to ensure that the integration of technology is ongoing.
  2. Further, companies that will win in 2016 will find ways to integrate data with market research insights to answer the ‘why behind the what,’ or help to streamline the research process and eliminate the need for too many questions that lead to respondent fatigue. Smart data fusion is important.


Patricio Pagani, Company Director, Infotools:

  1. There’s been a lot of talk about 2016 being the year when automation takes over from a lot of the manual work still present all along the value chain of our industry. Personally, I think that we are a good three years away from automation seriously making a significant impact. However, we are already seeing changes in the way value is perceived and delivered. The way clients are starting to frame their RFPs (eg. Multiple specialist vendors that need to be able to play together in a fluid ecosystem) is a testimony to what I think are “the new ways ahead’…”


Andrew Cannon, Executive Director, Global Research Business Network:

  1. By the end of 2016, a lot of people working in our sector, both client and supplier-side, will find that both data privacy and data security are much higher on their list of priorities.


Jon Puleston, Vice President Innovation, Lightspeed GMI:

  1. I predict the research industry is going to get a lot better at political polling in 2016. The reputation of the industry was badly damage in 2015 for not predicting the result of the Scottish & UK elections. Right now it may look like a tough call, but I think pollsters will do a much better job at forecasting of the result of US presidential election this year.


Duncan Lawrence, CEO & President, Morpace Inc.:

  1. 2016?!…will bring more of the same in many respects for research although progress is clearly continuing in our field. There’ll be more pressure (yes, more) on storytelling and visualization; more qualitative/ethnographic (much of it online) to tell/augment the story; and more progress with integrating social media into traditional tracking programs while augmenting both custom and standalone research.”
  2. There will also be more progress integrating Big Data with “Little Data” for better stories, and additional cost pressure from technology solutions that bypass traditional research processes (not everyone wants full service support on everything, always….ever?).
  3. Finally I expect continued pressure on suppliers to respond quickly with reasonably priced solutions, while also showcasing research expertise.


Mark Earls, Herdmeister, Herd Consultancy:

  1. This must be the year of “&”, not “either/or”. Too much of our conversation as an innovation community is around “the end/death of…”; too many new approaches are pitched as “disruptive” replacements for current practices, rather than complementary additions. TV didn’t kill radio or newspapers – they added to what already existed. Not only does this “either/or” rhetoric make it harder to take each new thing seriously (is everything really going to disrupt the market?) but it shows a serious misunderstanding of the importance the practical side of innovation (as Schumpeter observed, having new ideas is the easy bit, turning them into tangible products and getting them adopted is where the hard yards are). And – perhaps more importantly – “either/or” makes it harder for corporates to buy “innovation”. Whether you explain it in terms of “status quo” or “loss aversion bias”, we’re just making it harder for buyers to buy if we talk “either/or”.


Steve Schlesinger, CEO, Schlesinger Associates:

  1. The research world will continue to move toward more multi-methodology studies, combining both qualitative and quantitative design to enrich the deliverables to the end client. In addition to that continuous shift will be the addition of a variety of technology tools to enhance the data set.  We will continue to see the incorporation of neuroscience, blogging/diary tools and the capture of video/photos to bring the research to life.  All this leads to the further transformation of the research study to include behavioral data and social media monitoring/analysis.  We are not there yet but continue to move in this direction, the new frontier of insights and business decision making.  The holistic data set.


Seth Grimes, President & Principal Consultant, Alta Plana Corporation:

  1. While I’ve been all about text analytics for years, research & insights folks have remained skeptical. But given all-in adoption at organizations such as Ipsos — see my interview with researcher Jean-François Damais [link:] With that said, 2016 should be the year that the mainstream’s aspirations will turn into adoption.
  2. It’s important who your target population knows and not just what they say. I’m talking about melding network and content analysis, particularly when your working with an inherently social population, like… social media users. Again I’ll cite a front-line researcher, TNS’s Preriit Souda, whom I interview in Greenbook a few months back, “Gain Deeper Insights from Networks PLUS Content.” [link:]
  3. Image analysis won’t become mainstream in 2016, but there will be solid advances. One researcher who’s showing the way is Francesco D’Orazio at UK agency FACE, who is also product VP for Pulsar social analytics, as described in “How to Extract Insight from Images.” [link:]


Tal Chalozin, CTO and Co-Founder, INNOVID // Innovation in Video:

  1. Major ad-tech players losing their strong hold in the tech stack due to biased nature of their business (Facebook, google, yahoo)
  2. Data / analytics move even further into measuring / estimating actual value gain (attribution, real conversion tracking, better individual tracking cross device)
  3. Video will continue to grow, while scheduled / linear viewing share will drop overall and aggregated hours-pay-day of consuming video-type-media will increase
  4. OTT (digital TV/Video Over-the-Top) viewership will keep on spiking and desktop share of overall digital video views will drop below 40%
  5. Agencies / holding group / marketing services orgs will do more tech M&A (low to mid size)
  6. Venture funding ecosystem will slow massively in first half of the year which will drive big consolidation of mid to large companies with many small ones.


Vanessa Oshima, Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Planning, Japan at The Coca-Cola Company:

  1. 2016 – a watershed year as far as my crystal ball for my team goes. Data is being created at a speed that we cannot keep up with. 2016 will require more skills in data: understanding how to make sure the data you have is “is useable” – representative, clean, meaningful, and applied to business questions. Collecting a ton of big data is no different than collecting a ton of books and not doing anything with the knowledge. We could still have the “standard questions” of a questionnaire, but it is time when we should be able to fill in the answers with the holistic data we are being inundated with (and it is NOT JUST social media data!!!). From security cameras to POS data to purchase and use of apps – it is all information on behavior, and often linked to individual respondents or suitable for aggregate profiling.  This synthesis approach will require a new set of skills that may look very different to previous traditional research approaches. I see in our business a need for modelling, forecasting, strategic planning and financial business skills but also storytelling, socializing and consultancy and influencing skills to be strengthened – it’s not just the technical capabilities.  We as an industry are at a tipping point of moving from a support function to a thought and strategic leadership role – 2016 will be the year to step change this – from insights to impact.
  2. And one last request …can we PLEASE get a new Norm on Normative databases?! It needs to be rapidly rethought. Does a 10 year normative database have meaning in all cases?


Jim Bryson, CEO, 20|20 Research:

  1. 2016 will see Virtual Reality (VR) become the next MR buzzword. Gamers will blaze the trail making VR goggles common in homes worldwide.  After the typical slow MR initial adoption, VR will boom as a research methodology and as a truly disruptive technology. Researchers will begin to envision a world in which shop alongs, product placements, shelf tests and other in-person methods can be conducted online faster and cheaper than before.  Virtual experiences will become mainstream in ways that make Star Wars technology seem attainable.


Matt Warta, Co Founder and CEO, GutCheck:

  1. Agile Market Research will move well into the early majority in terms of adoption.  Along with this adoption, end clients will demand more than the transactional research that has marked the first wave of this fast-growing segment of marketing research.


Todd Kaiser,  Marketing Insights Strategist,  Association of National Advertisers:

  1. In 2016 the paradigm shift will not only change how we do research (mobile, behavioral, digital, etc.), but what we research. The evolving economy (from the industry age ‘goods’ based, to ‘service’ based, to the more recent ‘experience’ based, and now into a ‘relationship’ based economy – where brand differentiation is driven by emotional forces as well as the social life of brands) will drive marketers to examine how their organizational culture affects how consumers relate to their brands. In this near-perfect information economy, where brands can no longer rely only on product attributes and features, marketers will need to understand how to change their organizational culture to align with the consumer’s culture in order to build enduring relationships.


Denyse Drummond-Dunn,President and Customer Centricity Catalyst, C3Centricity:

  1. We’ll start to realize that it’s more important to change culture and skills, than it is methodologies.
  2. Everyone will get involved in market research and insight development, so we as experts need to ensure we lead the advance and do not get left behind in all the interest and enthusiasm.
  3. With the speed of change today, organizations will finally understand that trend following alone is insufficient to prepare them for future opportunities and threats.
  4. There will be an expansion of scenario planning supported by science fiction writers who have the creativity to push the boundaries of thinking further than most of us.


Larry Friedman, Chief Research Officer, TNS North America (retired):

  1. Change of any kind in market research will happen only when clients demand it,  At the end of the day, they call the shots because they pay the bills.  There has been increasing interest on the part of some client organizations in new types of research over the past two years, and I see this accelerating and becoming more the norm over the next year across many more organizations.
  2. I am hoping to see more of a mind shift change, not just about methodology for methodology’s sake, but more in terms of what new methods and new kinds of data will enable us to do – focus less on generating insights, and more on direct connection to action.


Tanya Franklin, Director, Trends & Marketplace Insights, Lowe’s Home Improvement:

  1. How to measure in-market advertising effectiveness and brand alignment in an ever-increasing fragmented media environment. With such buzz around Programmatic Marketing, it will become increasingly important to understand and overcome the challenges around consumer feedback and measurement in this space. It is expected that programmatic buying will ultimately capture the bulk of all digital advertising spending (the International Data Corporation has projected that programmatic buying will grow at 53% per year in the United States between 2011 and 2016). Despite significant projected growth, very little progress has been made to determine how consumer research for in-market ads will remain relevant, or are we headed toward a future where individual media buys will make mass ad effectiveness studies become obsolete? Companies who can crack this code will be highly sought after.
  2. Text analytics has come far, but who’s proving out concepts to explore video/visual analytics? There is no disputing the fact that more and more consumers are sharing their opinions online, and that text analytics will play a significant role in creating valuable, actionable insights from what is being communicated—through words. However, we are already seeing with the proliferation of apps like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and SnapChat and the need to visually codify what consumers are sharing digitally will be equally, if not more, important as text analytics. Insights professionals cannot ignore the groundswell of communication via imagery and must determine the best ways to monitor visual sentiment and feedback for a holistic evaluation of the consumer.


Kevin Lonnie, Founder & CEO, KL Communications:

  1. After decades of splintering and the advent of more and more trade organizations, 2016 will begin a step towards consolidation.
  2. We’ll see a rise in client side thought leaders, which has been sorely lacking. This will facilitate our industry’s ability to speak with one voice.
  3. Finally, we’ll continue to muck up mobile research and bludgeon unwitting respondents with interminably lengthy surveys (Sorry, I had to let the curmudgeon side of me out for a moment)


John Kearon, Chief Juicer, BrainJuicer:

  1. In the Centenary year of MR: we’ll say R.I.P. to over-rational, System2 methods and celebrate the coming of age of more emotional, System1 methods from Behavioural Science [confirmation bias is a wonderful thing!]. Here’s to the next 100 years…


Rudy Nadilo, President North America, Dapresy:

  1. Enterprises are actively demanding ways to better present information in a more graphical, easy to consume manner. They want to be more inclusive and share the information in a way that can be easily deployed across the company. They want to integrate multiple data steams into one “single source of truth” reporting platform, bypassing their current multiple delivery vehicles. Finally, they want better StoryTelling to graphically communicate their business process and show key metrics along those paths.


Carol Sue Haney, Senior Research Scientist, Qualtrics:

  1. The process that guides market research is changing rapidly and the following scenario will become the norm in 2016.  No longer are buyers completely relying on suppliers for all aspects of performing and analyzing research. Buyers and suppliers are collaborating – with buyers heavily participating in research design and execution.  Buyers are becoming skilled in executing research.  Buyers are sophisticated in their understanding of research, they know their strengths, and they also know one basic truth: they understand their business in ways the supplier never will grasp. Buyers are bringing suppliers in to assist with complexities such as sampling, data augmentation, weighting, complex analysis, and helping the supplier find the thread to the story that the research supports.  This shift in roles and responsibilities is being supported by both available online education in MR as well the underlying software that optimizes the buyer – supplier relationship.


Dan Weber, Owner, Itracks:

  1. Online qual will continue to be one of the fastest growing sectors within the research industry.   A decent portion of this growth will come from people switching from traditional methods to online.  Budgets, convenience and in-the-moment insights will be the primary drivers.


Ben Page, Chief Executive, Ipsos MORI:

  1. My predictions are of continued fragmentation and proliferation of techniques, with more and more mixed mode studies.
  2. Client budgets will remain under pressure and the need for speed will remain vital. Overall, though, we will all tend to over-estimate change in the near term – and under-estimate it in the medium term!


Melanie Courtright, Executive Vice President, Global Client Services, Research Now

  1. 2016 will be the year of the research participant.  Research community members will force us to evolve our methods.  As our modes changed, we didn’t adapt our questioning techniques to keep up with it all.  Participants will make us take their privacy concerns seriously, and will make their survey taking, data collection, and observational preferences clearly known.  They will reward (or punish) companies based on meeting their needs.  Just like they have taken control of how they communicate with brands, they have already begun taking control of how they communicate with researchers.  As researchers, we need to start listening to consumers, not just about the products and services they are researching, but about their expectations for how they provide that information to us.


Shane Skillen, CEO, Hotspex

  1. As we all race to a future with less questions and clients become less concerned with definitely right and are ok with probably right the era of pass/fail will die in 2016 and clients will deeply embrace learning journeys that inspire brands and even entire organizations with exciting possibilities for future growth.  Digital is killing all industries in its wake. Hotels, newspapers, taxis, nothing is safe. Smart insights pros will see this coming and reinvest in their abilities ( to create learning journeys powered by creativity, storytelling and data integration/visualization.
  2. I know a few multinationals that have, but more will follow, where the Insights Leader becomes one of the most powerful people in the organization as they use their models to direct ALL global marketing communication and R&D spending (billions!). The Age of Insights is upon us, CEOs care more about what their customers think than ever before,  Insights pros have some AMAZING new tools and technologies coming online … it’s going to be an amazing ride as the Chief Insights Officer begins to run the show.
  3. Some daring clients and agencies in the race for faster, better, cheaper will take a page from the FBI and enlist psychics to read the minds of millions of consumers predict how concepts and advertising will perform.  Even a neighbourhood palm reader (think neon sign) could likely have stopped New Coke.


Stan Knoops, Global Head of Insight at IFF, International Flavors & Fragrances

  1. Integration of Consumer Insight and Design thinking. Where design thinking is a much more holistic view of innovation, which includes aspects like storytelling, visualization, personification, focus, product life cycle  through its manufacture, delivery and disposal after its life period. The Design minded consumer researcher has to think a lot more during the designing of a product, as he has to take care of its life cycle, access, convenience & customer frustrations. The company that puts more focus on design thinking around their products, services & value chain will be the likely winners.
  2. Frugal innovation. Increase in the importance of real actionable insights that matter at the cost of plain facts & data.  Facts and data are still critical, but not sufficient. Agencies that offer only facts and data will struggle. This is a development that will start in developing markets, but will move to developed markets very quickly. The journey for real insights is not going to be an easy one, and quite some people will prefer to stay home.
  3. Looking across the accepted boundaries of how market research is being done. For example more focus on observation, consumer frustrations, taking away existing products instead of giving new products, consumer emotions.
  4. Scarcity of good skills. Continued search and increased difficulty to develop the right skills for insight professionals (lateral thinking, triangulation, embracing innovation).


Sion Agami, Research Fellow , Procter & Gamble Fem Care

  1. I think that 2016 will be the year for applied Virtual Reality. Consumers will be able to experience new products/ holistic experiences that do not exist, but making them feel is if they really existed leveraging Virtual Reality and generating a sense of “presence”.   This new approach will be great to stimulate consumer reaction & emotions. As we gain more experience with this new approach in the next couple of years, we will be able to generate the right set of questions, observation techniques, and measures to assess the impact of new products in consumer minds/ lives.


Brad Marsh, Chief Executive Officer, Consensus Point

  1. Prediction Power – Consumer and “crowd” predictions will take center stage during a Presidential election year.  “Agile” yet predictive analytics, applications, and providers will continue to push the envelope on what’s possible in the marketing intelligence and insights industry.

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