By: Richard Thornton

The GRIT (Greenbook Research Industry Trends Report) with Q3 and Q4 analysis of 2015 has shown that transformation isn’t a myth, a buzzword or indeed a notion that will go away for the market research industry. The industry seems to have recognised that the choice is ‘do or die’ when it comes to embracing change.

The report outlined some really interesting findings in a number of key areas for practitioners of market research. For instance, panels are being used by 79% of survey researchers but there seems to be a low satisfaction level among users; only 40% claimed to be satisfied with their panel provider. Among the important factors associated with panel use were customer service and purchase process, which seemed to feature in the high satisfaction arena. However, the quality and quantity of respondents ranked high in importance but low in satisfaction.

It is clear that the plethora of panel providers and newcomers to the market have a real issue to address here, both in terms of getting the balance right and ensuring that customer service and purchase process is matched with quality respondents. This isn’t a factor to be swept under the carpet. Access to sample and sustenance of supply is an ongoing issue and quality needs to remain high on the agenda alongside quantity. Respondent care is a big factor here and mustn’t be side-lined. Panelist care comprises a mix of factors – simply recruiting them is not enough. Panel owners need to ensure that the surveys that are passed on to their panelists are well-designed to avoid frustration when participating and ensure proper profiling so that surveys are a good match and relevant. Furthermore, regular panel maintenance and clean-ups will keep response rates high, and of course, incentives are a major factor. A fair incentive method is a must to keep panelists engaged.

It was also interesting to learn that despite the widely-held belief that the use of mobile is rife in market research; well over 50% of all surveys are still not optimised for mobile participation. It must be questioned why survey tools are not being updated to generate mobile friendly surveys at a time when smartphones and tablets are omnipresent? With ever-evolving tech companies entering the market and the increasing ‘appification’ of survey platforms and providers such as Zappi introducing the Zappi Store platform, is there really an excuse not to be optimising the mobile route?

On the new technology front, the report illustrated that tech-use is highest among suppliers. Whilst there is always talk around the emergence and increasing popularity of neuromarketing and biometrics, behavioural science research techniques have still to cross from the early adopter to the early majority stage. However, there is a wide level of interest in analytics and Big Data, so perhaps it’s no surprise that there is aggregation, as the expanse of data is the key to insights. It is difficult to accurately predict the rate of adoption of new technology, but we believe it could be a couple of years, at least, before these kinds of tech become more mainstream.

A burning issue and one that will become increasingly pertinent in a world of fast-moving technology are future skills. The most in-demand skills were cited as designers and data visualisation experts, data scientists, marketing and business strategists, and social media experts. On the supply side, with increasing use of dashboard solutions, there will be pressure on platform providers to enhance user experience and offer the right support; ensuring the process is as simple and efficient as it can be. It’s certainly an issue we feel is important hence why we’ve committed to it with the appointment of a dedicated UX specialist – ensuring we can continually improve the experience of users of our tools.

So, overall there are no real surprises in this report, but rather more confirmation of many long-awaited industry changes. Thankfully, the report cites an ‘unbridled sense of (cautious) optimism’ within the sector, which bodes well for the future.

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