Are you ready for some major upheaval in the market research industry? Experts are saying that some tried-and-true techniques are about to fall by the wayside.

For example, traditional demographics. Marketplaces are being split into ever-smaller lifestyle categories due to explosive growth in consumer data—segments, preferences, tastes and lifestyles—that can’t be measured in the old ways. Demographics alone no longer work, but many companies are still clinging to them—and it’s leading to a disconnect between companies and consumers.

What’s replacing these old methods? Ethnography and data mining.  Ethnographers observe how consumers use products and services in their natural environments, and then provide information to companies to help them figure out the behaviors and reasoning behind people’s purchasing decisions.

Here are four other methods you’ll see less of in the near future:

  • PowerPoint presentations. How many of us will actually be sad to see them go? They’ve been the dominant medium for delivering presentations for so long, but it’s been a frustrating time. Nobody enjoys a presentation that consists of slides stuffed with bullet points that we are expected to read while listening to the speaker—or worse, sitting there while the speaker reads them to us! New technology will force people to explore more creative ways of communicating to audiences.
  • Online surveys. The traditional online survey takes 15 minutes to complete. Consumers are getting increasingly impatient with this timeframe.  In the next 12 months, expect to see social media and analytics take over online market research with micro-surveys. These short, on-the-spot surveys will run on mobiles and via social media.
  • Formal focus groups. Traditional in-person focus groups, conducted in a boardroom with a one-way mirror, date back decades. Instead, you’ll start to see researchers talking with people in a more informal setting, maybe while presenting to a local club or group, in a coffee shop, or on site at an exhibition or event.  Then there are also online virtual focus groups.
  • Qualitative or Quantitative vs. Both. We tend to think of market research as being either qualitative or quantitative. But increasingly, they tell the story together, occurring simultaneously.  This merge shows signs of continuing, and evaluation and research consultants will need to be knowledgeable across both disciplines.

How do you feel about these inevitable changes to the way we conduct research and evaluation? Please feel free to share your comments; we would love to hear your thoughts on the issue!

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