As the economy began to bounce back from the recession, corporate profits have risen quickly. As a result, companies increased their investment in market research in order to generate sales leads and develop new products. Since then, the market research industry has been characterized by slow but steady growth. A fact ESOMAR agreed to when it reported that majority of the markets have experienced growth signaling a new demand for actionable information from research buyers in its 2015 report.
Plunkett Research has also reported that the U.S. industry for business intelligence, market research, and opinion polling will reach $31 billion by 2020, showing a great sign of optimism.
The market research industry has grown steadily over the last five years, but new innovations could rapidly increase potential revenue in the future. In ESOMAR Report 2015, New Research contributed $28.2 billion out of the global market value of US$68 billion it shared with traditional research.
It is therefore amazing that while other regions recorded growth, according to ESOMAR, Africa retains its 1 per cent share of the global industry in 2015, despite slipping into a ﬂight decline of -0.5 per cent, following a more positive growth of 2.6 per cent recorded in 2014.
The question is, why has Africa as a whole refused to grow?
South Africa, which remains the largest single market recorded by the report, saw growth in 2015 along with the rest of the SADEC region (at 2.3 percent and 3.2 per cent respectively). The move to a digital focus in research and the expansion into new sectors has helped this market growth, as well as advanced analytical skills and a broader service offering. Will other African countries copy from South Africa?
Meanwhile, despite an unfavorable exchange rate against the US dollar, Kenya did well in 2015, becoming the fastest growing market in Africa at a post-inflation rate of 16.4 per cent. Helped by a stable local economy, Kenya has relied on new opportunities, opening up in tracking studies and market measurement, and which has resulted in renewed investment in training.
IBISWorld predicts that the increasing use of social media and the changing media landscape will “revolutionize traditional methods of conducting market research.” Between 2016 and 2020, it expects industry revenue growth to accelerate in the U.S. as more market research firms adopt new innovative methods.
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. It’s the market-driven approach.
Under this model, companies must take the time to really understand their consumers 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, co-creation 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.
This development has fuelled the uptake of market research services globally.
With online shopping, customers can patronize just about any store or company anywhere in the world. How, then, do you ensure that people choose yours and keep buying from it again and again? One answer is to depend on lifecycle marketing, 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 automated programs 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 lean on your co-creation participants as you 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.
Nicole Burford, Digital Marketing Manager at GutCheck, argues that Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning will continue to hold sway in 2018.
Many define automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning separately, yet they all go hand in hand. For example, machine learning gathers big data, processes, learns from that data then uses artificial intelligence (AI) to communicate the learning and gather more data, thus creating an automated process. But what does all of this have to do with market research? Well, hopefully it’s somewhat clear that the ability to gather, process, communicate, and learn from data has a huge impact on market research. Specifically, it will impact market research by: Providing a means to gather and interpret big data, limiting the time spent on determining the what, when, where, and how so researchers can focus on why solving for the restrictions on sampling and reach when it comes to the number of data points needed to provide accurate insights
Basically, the factors above change the way we, as market researchers, conduct business each day and may even change what we’re called.
Market Researchers or Data Scientists, Nicole says even as we know market researchers in some instances will still be market researchers, depending on the methodology, but due to the influx of data that’s becoming available, there’s already been a shift to data sciences for some in our industry. Data scientists currently use visualization and machine learning tools to help them find new trends and patterns in data. With the adoption of more of these tools being utilized in marketing and research it’s more likely that a blending of the two roles will take place. For example, researchers will start with data science to bring to light what’s happening in relation to a specific business problem, then use market research to determine why that is before returning to the data (or machine learning) to figure out how to predict future outcomes and solve problems quickly. In other words, market research and data science will form as one process to create a holistic view of research.
She’s of the view that Smartphone based research will rise saying that a few years ago research made leaps and bounds in order to optimize studies on mobile devices.
According to her, continuing with that trend will be the use of smartphones to gather more specific data on consumers.
“Applications have the ability to gain access into the data of smartphone users and provide that data to others, for a price of course. While there will likely be some sort of framework set in place around how that process works, until then, there’s not much stopping researchers from gaining access to that information. Data like location, gender, age, purchasing habits, and app usage are just a few examples of what’s available. Fundamentally, this information will add an unparalleled level of insight into the behavior of consumers. And just think what happens when we combine it with machine learning and expert market researchers and data scientists”, she asked.
Our cover takes a look at the market research business in Nigeria with all its peculiarities.