Market Research and Technology: Past & Present

face to face survey

Out of the silence, a single word. “Idiot!”

Me: a fresh-faced grad. My accuser: a red faced SRE. My crime? Forgetting to check my data tables against the hole count*. Meaning the whole deck had to be checked and re-written on the day of the presentation. Not my finest hour.

It’s a reminder how much things have changed. Manual checking and verification of data used to be the norm. Quant used to be far more time-consuming and prone to error.

In my 17 years in the industry I’ve seen online data collection go from something clients viewed with suspicion to our primary means of quantification. Online quant is so prevalent many Research Managers I interview have never used CATI let alone F2F data collection.

Fast forward to 2018 and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to evaluate, commission & master MR tech platforms over the past 5 years.

The challenge: Imposing order on chaos

The proliferation of MR platforms and tools presents researchers with a new challenge: keeping pace with tech. That’s why help from trusted peers (like is invaluable.

Four use cases to consider right now

Whilst online data collection and analysis isn’t perfect, it is easy to take things for granted. The life of a researcher involves less drudgery than it used to. Tech can extend your practice and make your projects easier.

How’s about:

Checking hypotheses on the fly

Data back in an hour? Tools like Toluna’s Quick Surveys provide mean you can check hypotheses before a pitch meeting then confirm product penetration rates in the cab home..

Qual at scale

Remesh demonstrated their tool at the Worldwide Qualitative Research Conference in May. It feels like a “real-time qual-conjoint” (!). Our demo sourced verbatim feedback on a topic for 30 seconds then got users to trade off the responses for 30 seconds, parsing the main themes instantly. One to watch.

Easier analysis of ethno & diary data

Tech for diary studies and auto ethnography has been embraced by quallies ever since smartphones became ubiquitous. There are loads of options. My initial criteria related to participant ease: the simpler the better. Having used a few, the back-end analysis capabilities are as important. They need to allow easy coding, analysis and reporting. I’ve heard good things about Ethos.

Remote qual analysis

Mural is a collaboration tool you might consider to help if you have to do qual analysis remotely. Think of it like a huge online flipchart that updates in real time. You can draw, use sticky notes, share links, images and videos. It allows you to work alone or together, even from a smartphone. Built-in templates like mood boards, customer journey maps & personas come in handy too. You can also vote on outcomes.

Part 2 of this post will examine the future of market research and technology

*For anyone aged 35 or under, a hole count is a read out showing you how many responses there are for each code, used to cross-check the base sizes on your data tables

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