Researchers should embrace emerging methods to show relevance

Three quarters of researchers are using emerging methods despite financial expectations of the industry dipping.

Mindi Chahal

Innovation in the industry is vital to keep research and data relevant. In spite of the ongoing gloomy outlook in the financial aspects of the industry, it’s good to see that this is yet to stifle researchers seeking out and using new methods that have the potential to yield greater and even alternative insights.

Three quarters of those surveyed are using at least one of 18 emerging methods, according to the latest study from RSM Research, which is compiled from over 250 UK based researchers. These include methods such as social media analytics, eye tracking, behavioural economics, neuromarketing and facial recognition analysis, among others.

The data shows that 44 per cent use market research online communities, over a third use mobile phone surveys (quantitative) and 28 per cent of respondents use tablet surveys.

These make up the top three emerging methods used by researchers and highlights the changes in consumer behaviour, in terms of access to technology, which in turn has an effect on how information is gathered.

In a time where confidence in the financial health of the business and research sector as a whole is low, embracing innovation in trying new methods can show the importance and relevance of gathering insight.

The research also shows the expectations of financial prospects at work and the wider economy have dipped among the research sector although in all cases confidence is stronger than 12 months ago.

For budgets and revenue the study reveals the overall rate of growth is flat and forecasts for the next 12 months are also steady. Researchers report growth of 1.9 per cent over the past 12 months compared to 1.7 per cent in May 2012 and 2.9 per cent in December 2011. Five per cent growth is anticipated for the year ahead compared to 5.1 per cent in May 2012 and 4 per cent in December 2011.

The expected performance of the respondent’s own company is better than that of the research sector and wider UK economy. The net score for the economic prospects of ‘my company’ stands at 28 per cent but down from 35 per cent in May 2012. The general financial health of the research sector has dipped the most with a net negative score of -13 per cent which is a drop of 17 percentage points from a net positive of 4 per cent in May 2012.

These results are part of wave 13 in a survey that is conducted every six months. I don’t believe economic expectations to improve when the next wave results are released but it will be interesting to see how much interest, use and spend goes into using emerging methods.

Researchers in the study also show they are likely to increase their use of many of the emerging methods within the next three years – but will trying new techniques pay off and revive confidence in the industry as a whole?

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