Technology is opening up options and making the world a smaller, more accessible place. As a researcher, technology has created the ability for one to access respondents globally, collect and process insights instantaneously, and peek inside the life of a respondent in real time whenever and wherever they happen to be. This gives the researcher choice and options for when, where, and how to research different audiences for different clients with different requirements. At the same time, Doug Schorr, Chief Insights Officer, Schorr Creative Solutions, Inc. believes technology also has the ability to muddy the waters with all of the options available to us saying some clients and researchers are all about the latest and greatest tool (or toy), and sometimes we overcomplicate a simple research study by incorporating the latest bells and whistles.
However , he advised that we need to keep things as simple, clear, and straightforward as possible for the respondent.
Making a review of the market research business in the past year , he identified the impact of technology and technology tools that have contributed immensely to the development of the market research business and said that technology has really revamped the entire process of market research .
In a recent review of the market research industry by Lanre Fasakin , CEO, CMRG Ltd,“what has changed essentially in the market research industry cannot be discussed in isolation of technology.
“Today the processes are so different, and the outcome, by extension, is so different too in an interesting way. If you look at all the stages involved, we have data collection solutions, we have software that do data processing much better, we have software that do analysis faster , deeper and better. And we have the look and feel of the report obviously better now than before. So within the context of change technology has been the number one thing that has changed”.
On the state of online research in Africa , (which is also technology driven), compared to the level it has attained in the developed world, Fasakin said online research is getting better.
“For me, it is a growth stage and we are beginning to appreciate the huge and immense potential of online research these days. There’s a big caveat though, and that would be the penetration of the internet in Africa.
“It may not be comparable with what obtains in the developed world but it’s actually growing especially with the advent of mobile network service providers such as the MTN, Glo, Airtel and the 9Mobiles of this world.
“So online research is doing well but we need to situate the benefit of online research within the profile of the consumers of any brand. Even though online research is a cool thing to do, it is modern and good but it has to go side by side with the profiles of the consumers of the brand.
“Let me quickly say here that online research, beneficial as it is, has its own short comings. If anything, it encourages one line answers and you cannot probe deep because you are not there to physically engage and achieve that.
“Usually, the response rate is not as high as desirable and more often than not you may not be able to control the respondents profile in terms of the quota of a particular social class you want.
“So those are the key fundamental issues research must address. Be that as it may, right now online research will be suitable if you are talking about middle class to the upper class product but if the product speaks to things used by the grassroots people it may not be the best approach.
“Usually, we look at the benefits vis-a-vis the profile of the consumers of the product. If I were to draw a trend in terms of where we are now compared to where we used to be, I think we are making steady progress in that space which is a commendable thing”, Fasakin said.
“Who says we cannot have exclusive Data Analytics Company focusing on AI? It’s also high time we started looking at bespoke research services. We can have Human Resources Management (HRM) analytics for instance. We can have omnibus surveys using the qualitative research approach, we can have data collection powerhouses, and so on. At CMRG we are committed to these things, fingers crossed, he submitted.
Wale Omiyale, SVP, Market Research, Confirmit argues that consumers – and therefore respondents — are constantly embracing new technologies.
He said that market research businesses must harness these advances in order to fend off the ever-present issues of declining response rates and hard-to-reach demographics.
According to him, by implementing the right technology, you can begin moving towards a frictionless market research approach that engages respondents and delivers real insight.
“There is a huge opportunity for forward-thinking MR agencies to become a true research partner to their customers by providing technologies such as fully mobile-enabled surveys (still an under-exploited opportunity despite years of data demanding it) to more cutting-edge solutions such as facial emotion recognition within the traditional survey”, he proffered .
Dan Womack, Senior Manager, Insights, Aflac agrees that technology is having a significant impact on MR, but , however, thinks we are just beginning to see what is (or needs) to come.
“There are many dimensions, but I think one of the more interesting changes is related to communication technology. Major advances in communication technology (like the move from orality to literacy) lead to much bigger changes by affecting how we think, behave, and structure our worlds — changes well beyond how we exchange information.
“I think we are just starting to see the impact of advances in modern communication technology, and MR must evolve rapidly if we are to have a chance at understanding the consumers of tomorrow”, he said.
Katie Clark, Social Media, Market Research, and Personal Branding Consultant, InsightsGal.com, says advances in technology have always had an impact on market research — think back to the movement from paper surveys to online surveys. Think about the impact of social media. Now we’re in an era of “data data everywhere!”
Consumers are savvier, researchers are savvier, and there’s more ways (via tech) to capture someone’s thoughts, feelings — even purchases — ways that weren’t available even five years ago. Technology has also certainly impacted jobs within research, making some obsolete and creating others. I can’t think of a more exciting time (than say the last 10+ years) to be a witness to the changes in the research industry.
Speaking with Mr. Ibhade of Market Trends International Ltd, on how the marketing research industry in Nigeria has evolved over the years, he said the industry in Nigeria has had series of transformations.
“ In the past decade, the game has completely changed because years back (I am talking about in the 70s and in the 80s) research was purely done manually with crude implements, such as manual typewriter. Manual typewriter was used for typing study instruments, proposals and reports. Pen and paper was the only means of administering questionnaires and the responses were manually collated, tallied, tabulated and analyzed. The frequency, percentages and statistical analyses were manually done. You could imagine the time and error margin if an organization is carrying out a survey of 10,000 interviews with manual operations from fieldwork to report writing.
“ If you want to do any statistical analysis like chi-square, test of significance, analysis of variance, the organization has to look for a professional statistician if it cannot afford to hire the services of an in-house resource statistician. In the process, human errors could be introduced; but with the advent of technology, the game has changed drastically. Today, things are done faster, cost effective and enhance quality deliverable.
“At Market Trends International, 95% of all of our surveys are done electronically by using electronic devices (tablet, smart phone and laptop) to conduct interviews. Once fieldwork is completed the data will automatically ready because every completed interview that is uploaded will be stored in the central server. The software (survey-to-go, n-field and checker) we use have in-built quality controls that capture GPS coordinate indicating actual location and household where the interview was conducted. The GPS coordinate will indicate where the interview was done and the particular person interviewed whether the sampling gap, household selection and respondent selection were observed without being present in field. The software also captures voice recording of some sessions of the interview unknowing to the interviewer and the respondent. A team of IT experts can then play back the audio recordings to revalidate the interviews- whether the questions were properly asked or not. It also has time stamp. What that one means is that for each session of the questionnaire, there is a time bound. For instance, if the section is expected to last for 5 minutes and is done for less than 5 minutes such interview will be canceled because the interviewer may not have accurately asked all the questions.
“Client can see the data live even in their office using the access code. They can provide feedback on the uploaded interviews as field work progresses. The software helps us to monitor interviewers in field and to track their daily performance because each interviewer will have access code and that is the code they will use throughout the duration of the study. Unlike pen and paper interview, you can monitor more than one person at a time. Another latest technology we use at Market Trends international is Checker software.
“ With checker software, the whole processes of survey can be automated from scripting of questionnaire, data collection and report writing. For example, we did a survey recently that was over 10,000 sample size, 40 FGDs and 60 IDIs and I told the client when we went for presentation that we shall spend 28 days to complete the study. He was shocked and asked me if I was a magician. I said no, the era of using manual implement has gone; with the latest technology we use at Market Trends which is used globally you can turn around study within a short period. Latest technologies also paved way for online survey, SMS survey, email survey and web-based survey.
“Another innovative technology for qualitative study is the online live streaming which enables client to view Focus Group Discussion and central location interviews live at the comfort of their office, home, car and on transit. If FGD is going on here in Nigeria, a client in Europe or America can view the group session live and if they want to make any input they can send a text message to the moderator. Market Trends International is one of the few companies that offer this type of service in Nigeria” , Ibhade disclosed.
The views of other experts are featured in the cover interviews segment