Use of emerging methods will bolster research industry

The latest Research Professionals’ survey suggests financial sentiment for the year ahead is the strongest for a number of years and that more researchers are feeling confident than anxious and are increasingly adopting emerging methods. 

Mindi Chahal

The study, by RSM Research of 246 UK researchers, shows a net score of +59 per cent for the general economic condition of the country.

A net score is produced when the percentage of those expecting the general economic condition of the country to improve are subtracted from the percentage of those expecting it to get worse. 

This is the best net score recorded since the measure was adopted in 2010 and represents an improvement of 38 percentage points from six months ago, which was itself an improvement of 22 percentage points from six months before that.

I think the most interesting part of this ‘state of the industry’ study, which has been going for over ten years, is the increase in the use of emerging methods in market research. These include tablet surveys, social media analytics, eye tracking, webcam based interviewing, mobile phone surveys and many more listed by respondents.   

Social insights in particular are proving popular, coming fourth on the list in the RSM survey with 30 per cent of respondents using it, and MTV announced this week that it is promising brands ad targeting based on social insights.  

It’s innovation that will spur this industry on and the study shows that more than eight out of ten researchers in the survey (84 per cent) have used one of at least 18 emerging methods or techniques. This is an increase of nine percentage points since the study first asked about these methods and techniques in December 2012. 

It will come as no surprise then that the study finds that 70 per cent of researchers agree strongly or agree that market research is at a crossroads, in that a number of fundamental changes to its nature and role are happening that are set to continue. Only 8 per cent disagree with this.

Overall it’s a positive story for the industry. A net score of +34 per cent is recorded for the general financial health of the research sector – this is also the best net score recorded since the measure was adopted in 2010.  

The net score for the economic prospects of ‘my company’ is +51 per cent, also the best net score recorded to date and an increase of 14 percentage points from May 2012.

Confidence is up, but change will unnerve any industry and while there is support for new ways of conducting and reporting research, it does not mean that researchers believe there is no place for traditional research approaches in the future. 

It’s not a case of out with the old in with the new; it’s about the rate of adoption of emerging methods for the good of the sector.   

Have you used emerging research methods to steer and create great campaigns? If yes, the Marketing Week Engage Awards 2014 are now open for submissions of your best marketing case studies of the past 12 months.



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