Academic journal article Management & Marketing

Eight Contemporary Trends in the Market Research Industry

Academic journal article Management & Marketing

Eight Contemporary Trends in the Market Research Industry

Article excerpt

Abstract. As the market has changed to adopt new advertising techniques and consumers' input, market research faces times of great challenges - and great opportunities. This paper details eight current trends in market research: rethinking working concepts as basic as the well-known purchase funnel; integrating the digital medium into research techniques; investigating the consumer through passive techniques; dealing with the era of big data; translating consumers' word-of-mouth into insights; balancing in-depth technical knowledge and understanding of the "the big picture"; adopting international innovation locally; facing potential data privacy issues. These trends are meant to help marketing and market research practitioners understand how the industry is changing around them and how they must adapt in order to survive. The contemporary environment is both challenging and full of opportunities: companies brave enough to adapt to the industry changes as they happen, who acknowledge and incorporate new methods of addressing and studying consumers - are those who will have an undeniable competitive advantage in the long run.

Keywords: market research trends, digital research, passive research, big data, user-generated content, data privacy.

1. Introduction

For the past decades we have been living an era of great changes in the entire world, mostly brought about by technological advances. It is the era of mobile, instant communication, the era of big data. These improvements are reflected in every aspect of life, including consumption and purchase behaviour and, consequently, in the market research profession. Current trends and potential directions of evolution are recurrent themes among industry professionals today.

As confirmation that market research is currently seeing important changes, the ESOMAR Congress 2013 is entitled "Think Big" and proposes themes such as: added value of research, quality of research, updating solutions, identifying the best connection points with consumers and new ROI indicators like Return on Engagement and Return on Customer Experience (ESOMAR, 2013). All themes stress the fact that research around the world is at a crossroads that may change the very outline of the profession.

This article looks at the past and current images of the market system, highlights the main changes which led the industry to where it is today, and discusses eight main trends with the potential to trace the future of this domain. It is a collection of connected ideas on understanding consumer behaviour through market research and should interest research practitioners in the economic and academic field alike, as both contribute to the market research industry. As research is conducted both in the economic world and in academia, professionals around the world are working to extend the know-how of both environments, generating more and more information every day. Applied researchers adapt to market realities by incorporating new methods or identifying hot topics of the day, while academia solves technical issues or proposes new quantitative methods. Sometimes, newspapers pick up thoughts that might catch the public eye. Each environment - economic, academia, general public - tends to its own needs and may even do so successfully, but the industry itself is the sum of all these parts and more.

Instead of adding to the building blocks of each environment, this article picks ideas that have emerged in one form or another and attempts to bring them together to shape "the big picture". By using this methodology, it illustrates the very challenge faced by market research today: never before has so much information been freely available to us, yet are we able to organise it, to identify trends and to predict the future of our profession?

2. The market system then and now: what changed?

Industrialization and mass production of goods marked the beginning of the consumption era and the apparition of a whole range of concepts and activities: consumer, marketing, marketing research and advertising. …

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