Changes in Market Research over last 10 years…and what is to come?


A lot has changed in the ten years since we started Engage, but what do we predict for the next ten?  Here is the first instalment of our crystal ball gazing…what’s happened and what’s next?

  1. Online will remain crucial, but combined with mixed source approaches

What happened?  Online data collection has dominated in the last few years, and has overtaken traditional  methodologies. Although it can be an inefficient route to low penetration samples, agencies love it as it delivers gross margin. But this dominance of online has created a distance from consumers – devaluing research for some marketers and throwing MR open to criticism. Sometimes it is forgotten that online is a ‘self-completion’ method so complex questions should be kept to a minimum. With increasing panel recruitment and engagement issues, we have seen a resurgence of mixed methods and a huge amount of work undertaken by forward thinking agencies (like us!) and panel suppliers to understand how best to engage with respondents and gamify surveys.

What next? As agencies encourage more interaction and consumer collaboration, the online research experience will improve. It will also be combined with a range of new, mixed source methodologies.

  1. Smart phone surveys will become the norm

What happened? Mobile has grown fast as a method of data collection, in particular for relatively simple surveys. It’s also emerged as a device respondents may use to complete online surveys alongside laptops, tablets and PCs, giving a richness of response we might otherwise not get.

What’s next? The opportunity to use GPS services within surveys and to tag scanned photos, means we will see more and more surveys completed on smart phones. It is likely that technology will also continue to allow flexible engagement with respondents via apps and tracking. This has big implications for survey coverage – there will be more ‘in-the moment’ activities used as part of wider consumer understanding projects.  Mobile will get us closer to the consumer.

  1. More varied, better quality stimulus

What happened? Google and other internet services have made many aspects of research set up quicker and easier. Stimulus can be delivered electronically; online access to logos and pack shots, as well as designers and people with Photoshop skills, have given us more flexibility and the ability to make last minute changes. Of course this means agencies are now expected to do more.

What’s next? We don’t think virtual reality will ever take off, but we do think that the quality and ease of visual manipulation is a big change for researchers.  We see the development of more radical life-like stimulus in future – such as the ability to see a real three dimensional shelf and pick products up .

  1. New categories to research

What happened? Ten years ago researching a website was a specialism. Now most companies offer it as part of the service.

What’s next? Marketing is still evolving and MR with it, as we access consumers in different ways and learn from their behaviour. We see an increase in social media/digital/multi-platform marketing and hence an increase in the research needed to support it.

  1. Faster surveys and particularly data/ results

What’s happened? We’re becoming used to getting access to snapshots of results during fieldwork, getting data delivered overnight or even in real time.

What’s next? The demand for speed is likely to increase, as marketers get used to having instantly accessible data at their fingertips.  It’s up to us researchers to ensure the quality of this data is impeccable, so as to avoid dubious snap judgement decisions.

What do you think? In our next newsletter we’ll share more of our predictions for how the world of market research is changing and what we can expect for the future.

Author: Marie Sutton (

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