In this week’s Insights Interview, we sat down with Jed Meyer, EVP Corporate Research, Univision Communications Inc., to discuss the biggest trends shaping market research, how researchers can thrive in the “Trump Era”, and how Gen Z is impacting the industry.
Here’s what Meyer had to say:
How has market research been disrupted?
Meyer: Technology and demographic shifts have impacted the market research industry. These trends are unique because they are occurring simultaneously. In technology, qualitative market research is firmly going online. While the industry is embracing change it’s also struggling to reconcile its traditional role while embracing new techniques to meet with today’s demands. From a demographic perspective, there are several trends occurring ranging from a more diverse population, digital young segments, the aging of the US population, larger proportion of working women – all leading change in consumption patterns. Understanding these nuances, cultural insights and how to effectively measure these segments will be increasingly important.
How has digital impacted market research?
Meyer: There are opportunities and challenges:
o Digital has made it easier and faster to collect data and engage in more confident decision making. Growth of data analytics, online communities, social media and web traffic monitoring and online/mobile surveys have provided increased efficiency, cost savings and opportunity to learn more about consumer behaviors and preferences.
o For example, the growth of mobile only studies enable location-based, in-the-moment and smartphone ethnography. This provides opportunity for increased engagement and more depth of the insights collected.
o Short attention spans resulting from constant engagement and a desire to share opinions
o Privacy Issues – consumers are less comfortable about sharing more personal information
o Understanding the completeness of digital datasets and knowing where to look for ‘gaps’
How can market researchers thrive in the “Trump Era”?
Meyer: Culturally diverse populations (particularly Hispanics) feel the political climate is more negative since the election with an increase in displays of prejudice. Being culturally aware, respectful, open, and accommodating to these sentiments when recruiting is important. Companies that incorporate this attitude into their recruiting efforts will have minimal problems in achieving successful show rates in these uncertain times.
How are consumers shaping the future of market research?
Meyer: It’s making a difference in how we collect and analyze data. Self-reported data accounts for a small percentage of what consumers do in their routines. Consumers don’t have conscious access to the true drivers of their behaviors so integrating different research methods will be increasingly important. Additionally, today’s consumers have more expectations from brands and are more opinioned than before. For example, the availability of social media has provided a platform for consumers to share their thoughts in real time. Because these opinions are unsolicited, they provide genuine insight into consumer feelings. Understanding the ebbs and flows of consumer sentiment via multiple research platforms and tracking their behaviors/comments is essential in uncovering trends and new behaviors.
Where do you see market research moving in the next 5 years?
Meyer: Phone interviews will become obsolete – mostly online and integrating other methods/techniques to better understand consumer behavior and preferences. And, big data will play a major role. With the mountains of data now captured daily by all manner of devices the challenge is connecting it appropriately and then making sense of it all. This also presents another layer of challenge. The sheer volume and fragmentation and inability to track sources in any detail or de-duplicate across multiple media data makes this an extremely difficult task.
How has technology helped or hindered market research?
Meyer: It’s helped by providing easier access to participants through online channels, market researchers can improve their reaction times to trends and current affairs, which is priceless in a world that just won’t wait.
How is Gen Z impacting market research?
Meyer: Gen Z are a new type of consumer: one that can confidently and quickly adopt skills and one that will not shy away from challenging the information brands provide. They communicate a lot (text, social media, etc.) and did not live in a world without the internet. This segment grew up in a post 9/11 and post-recession era so understanding their unique views from older generations will be instrumental. The implications for researchers is focusing more on passive listening through big data sets. It’s also important to meet them on their preferred communication channel (mobile).