By Richard Thornton

This year seems to be flying by, and already we are looking forward to and planning for 2015.

The MR industry has undergone a dramatic overhaul in recent times, and this year is no exception with a real shift in market research industry players coming together to integrate technology capabilities and functionalities to meet the requirements of the end user. Demands for data – the kingpin of brand marketing strategy – have increased, with the methods for data gathering also on the rise, thanks to additional avenues such as social media and loyalty programmes. Bringing all of this together to build a more complete picture of the customer journey is the Holy Grail and something for which the processes are becoming more sophisticated.

We predict that this shift will facilitate the next phase of evolution for the MR space. For a short while, the emergence of tech start-ups and ‘boutique’ agencies looked as though they might threaten the future of traditional/existing MR agencies. And in some cases they still might. There are a plethora of innovative tech start-ups coming out of the west coast on the US, for example, that are certainly disrupting the status quo – and no doubt we’ll see this trend head to Europe like most things out of the US. However, in giving credit to some of the larger incumbents within MR, we are seeing a fight-back of sorts with some now investing heavily in reviewing and reshaping their organisation around their supply chain and procurement process to remain relevant and competitive

So collaboration is king, and the partnerships that facilitate the more technologically advanced ways of data gathering are also aiding the much-needed stream of respondents, particularly during a time when supply is an issue with genuine fears over sustaining a reliable supply chain shared by many within the industry. A period of a misguided approach to respondent care has contributed to a potential shortage of respondents, and the competition for people’s attention (social media, video games and streaming) also contributes towards a potential future supply issue.

Forming partnerships through being smart and more collaborative with technology and working together is likely the only way these industry issues can be resolved as there are some certainties in this game – the supply of respondents isn’t infinite and the approach to data collection has to be streamlined and integrated with other methods to provide a true picture of the customer journey. Thankfully, the industry is moving in the right direction, and will hopefully continue on its path of evolution.

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