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The Future of Market Research as an Industry

Updated on September 1, 2014

Market Research Industry: ‘Ready or Not’ for the Future?

Market Research is changing rapidly and that is no news to those familiar with the industry. The question often asked is whether or not the industry is going to survive the changes or disappear altogether in the coming 10 to 15 years. This speculation has been going on for quite some time now and we at Intellex Dynamic Reporting decided to take this discussion onto a new higher level. In this article we highlight what exactly we have done to bring the discussion on and keep it going.

During a number of recent industry specific congresses and exhibitions Intellex has spoken to a large number of market research professionals and research buyers about their thoughts on the upcoming changes and future of the industry in general. Based on what we’ve heard, the idea that Market Research is rather passive and somehow incapable or unwilling to deal with the upcoming challenges was seen as a real issue by the industry natives and was mentioned most frequently.

“Big data is a buzz word people don’t actually know what it means or what to do with it.”

“MR agencies will die if they don’t incorporate the new technologies”

Those are just a couple of quotes randomly selected from the many we collected during the Marketing Week Live 2014 in London. Big Data and new technological developments, among other things mobile, were mentioned as factors that might reshape the industry in the coming 3 to 5 years.

Other aspects named as possibly determining the future of the industry were strategic relevance of MR and the survey quality.

“You want to survive? Then you need to adapt to new trends – and everyone is new to the trends. It’s a new market.”

“The traditional research has its place, so it won’t disappear, but some automation would be helpful.”

“Clients are dissatisfied with factory research, so they are turning back to ‘quali’”

As you can tell from the quotes above, opinions varied a lot.

What seems striking is the fact that the biggest issues Market Research professionals predict for the next several years are not just the technology based. The notions that have been buzzing lately, also beyond market research domain alone are specially related to the strategic relevance of MR. Also data protection in combination with data quality have been mentioned.

“People are getting fed up with market research”

“Research agencies don’t seem to understand that, with technology advancing with the speed it does, there might come a time when we don’t need to ask questions anymore”

“I’m not confident about the quality of work of MR agencies”

One of the factors that a majority of industry experts we talked to do agree upon is the fact that Market Research is changing at a fast pace, while it does not seem to be adequately prepared to deal with the changes. The quote that summarizes ideas we collected particularly well is “The biggest issue with the MR industry is its inertia”. There is therefore a clear concern that the industry, despite recognizing the current changes, is somehow unwilling or incapable to adapt.

To sum it all up, it seems that not only research buyers but also research agencies themselves tend to question the relevance of the industry in the long run, especially placed into the context of the abovementioned changes. Now that so many of our interviewees have their doubts about the MR relevance and don’t feel the industry is ready to face the existing and upcoming challenges, it is about time we started a collective discussion about how to deal with the future. From our side, Intellex would like to take one step at a time. Next to this survey we held, there is a discussion group on LinkedIn we have set up. We are going to keep inviting the market research professionals who are not indifferent to the future of the industry to also have their say and join the discussion. And who knows, maybe together we’ll help the industry find a way to adapt to the future challenges.

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