The New Market Research – Trends Today Compared to 10 Years Ago

New Market Research TrendsI was doing some secondary research for my blog the other day and stumbled upon a story titled “The New Market Research” by Joshua D. Macht and it turned out to be quite an interesting read, but not for the reasons you may think.

If you’re anything like me, then when you see an article with words like ‘new market research’ in the title then you probably assume it is just going to be another story about how social media is going to be the next big thing to flip the market research industry upside-down. However, if you take a few minutes to read Macht’s article, then you’ll realize that his story is about how new qualitative shopper research methods are taking over the industry … back in 1998.

There were a few moments throughout Macht’s decade-old article where the average market researcher might stop for a moment and laugh at how things have never changed, like the following:

“We already knew we had a good cracker, says Shamir, but the research let us know where to put it.”

“Entrepreneurs think they have divine intuition, which is fine if you’re part of the audience you are trying to reach.”

“… for small-company owners, surveys and focus groups are tremendously costly”

There were also many moments in the article where the average market researcher should stop and laugh at how things have changed dramatically over 10-years:

“The ever-widening chasm between survey results and reality has emboldened marketers to question the old-style methods.”

“It can take months–even a year–to collect data and crunch numbers from a massive survey.”

“We are in the midst of watching a real shift away from survey-based research.”

If you don’t yet realizing what I’m trying to say here, then you may be in trouble as a market researcher, but don’t worry, I’ll make it more clear.

Take a minute and read the article on the Vovici Blog titled “Voice of the Customer Trends in 2011” by Jeffrey Henning and once you’re done come back here to continue with my article.

Henning’s article highlights a few things that require some analysis to understand where this contrived article of mine is trying to take you. Just to be clear of how much work went into the Voice of the Customer Trends research, it also used information from Forrester, Gartner, the Temkin GroupLoyalty 360 and Customer Management IQ, and their own ongoing Customer Experience IQ research. His article lists the top seven trends for 2011 as the following:

Integrate Social Media

Include Text Analysis

Build Employee Engagement

Publish Employee-Specific Reports

Set Up Closed Loop Feedback

Consolidate Feedback Collection

Get Mobile Feedback

I was quite impressed by this short list and I agree with it 100%, but I just wish that Henning would have pointed out that these are continuing trends from 2010, but that’s another discussion. However, I feel that this list of seven trends could be narrowed down to just one thing. What was Macht’s article saying back in 1998 that Henning’s was also saying in 2010?

 Simply put, just follow your customers to answer your questions.

Use new market research tools if they make it easier to follow and collect answers from  customers, but just don’t use them if the tools don’t make it easier.

Nothing has ever really changed when it comes to making business decisions and it never will. People in business need to make decisions, and they have always wanted to make better, quicker and cheaper decisions because in the end that means more profit. What we do need to put more focus on in the market research industry is that we are the business advisors with the tools. New tools can change the way in which we provide advice, but in the end we are still the ones who are in control of the messages being told.

If you want to see how the industry has been commenting on a similar message of being a “business strategist” rather than just a market researcher then checkout “The Death of Market Research” by Tamara Barber.

Please comment below and thanks again for reading my blog,


Sean Copeland is a certified marketing research professional (CMRP) known for his broad knowledge of the research workflow, his disruptive approach to problem solving and for building strong client relationships. In over 5 years Sean has developed, sold, executed, and managed hundreds of consumer research studies using a variety of new and traditional research methodologies.

Contact Sean Copeland:

T: 647-269-5085



Sean on Twitter Sean on LinkedIn Sean on Google Plus