6 Key Market Research Industry Trends (2023)
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The value of the global market research industry grew by more than $40 billion dollars between 2009 and 2019. The industry is currently worth approximately $82.62 billion and shows no signs of slowing down.
This valuation isn’t surprising — information is everywhere. Unprecedented volumes of data, up-to-the-minute insights, and truly global audiences mean the market research industry is constantly shifting in an effort to keep up with ever-changing consumer preferences.
In this report, read about the top six trends that we expect to drive the market research industry in 2023 and the years to come.
1. Online surveys transition to mobile-first
In recent years, the market research industry has been sticking to what they know: online surveys work.
Today, nearly 90% of market researchers say they use online surveys regularly.
Market researchers have come to rely on online surveys because they’re fast and cost-effective.
Nearly all consumers are on the internet — only 37% of the world, including people in developing countries, has never been online.
Stats show that 5.07 billion people use the internet as of late 2022, and that number is growing by 3.5% each year.
For market researchers, the internet is the most reliable place to find their target audience.
Experts expect the popularity of the online survey market to stay high, growing 16% each year through 2026.
With the popularity of online surveys, it’s logical to expect to see similar popularity in mobile surveys.
Across the globe, 68% of website visits in 2020 came from mobile devices. That’s nearly a 5% increase over 2019.
However, only 60% of market researchers say they use mobile surveys regularly.
Experts point to poor UX and survey length as reasons why consumers don’t complete surveys on their smartphones.
Searches for "UX design" have increased by 269% in the last 5 years.
At the end of 2018, 33% of online surveys were started via mobile.
That was a substantial increase from 2013 when only 3-7% of surveys were taken on smartphones.
SurveySparrow, a company founded in 2017, aims to make mobile-first surveys the future of market research.
The company’s founder was inspired by WhatsApp, keeping the tone of the platform’s surveys convenient and conversational.
SurveySparrow says their approach gets a 40% higher completion rate than traditional online surveys.
Pollfish, another mobile-first survey company, stresses that mobile surveys are a much better option than desktop online surveys.
They say mobile surveys provide a greater reach, especially to consumers in Gen Z, and drive an increased response rate.
Experts suggest that mobile-first surveys must optimize the user experience. Doing so can lead to data differences of 10 percentage points or more.
2. Redefining the representative sample
Market researchers have always been mindful to create their groups of research participants in proportion to the population of the market as a whole.
In other words, they recruit participants that mirror their target audience in terms of gender, age, and location.
In the past few years, there’s been a push to expand what a “representative sample” truly means.
In 2023, more attention is on diversity in the market research space than ever before.
In one survey, 80% of market researchers said they were interested in learning best practice solutions for multicultural insights, research, and strategy.
The CEO of ThinkNow, a cultural insights agency, described it this way:
“An inclusive approach to research relies on a diverse sample of respondents and employs cultural understanding to provide psychological safety for them. This enables you to gather open and honest responses”.
ThinkNow reports that 98% of their clients increase their audience with the insights they provide.
The inclusion standard extends beyond ethnicities to include people with physical disabilities, those with intellectual disabilities, and people in LGBTQ+ communities.
Inclusive market research doesn’t present an entirely new way of doing things. But it does include several meaningful changes that can drastically improve the quality of the data collected.
For example, researchers are being more mindful about the nature of their questions. Are they offensive or dismissive to certain groups of participants? Are they stereotypical or inclusive?
Searches for “diversity” have increased by 111% over the past 10 years.
Conducting market research among Millennials is one example where diversity in the audience is essential.
When it comes to Millennials in the United States, Hispanics make up more than 20% of the group. In order to get accurate data, market researchers must ensure the makeup of their sample is 20% Hispanic.
LMD, a Maryland-based communications agency, recently completed market research for a multi-year anti-litter campaign for Prince George’s County.
They were careful to draw upon a diverse group of participants that matched the County’s actual population breakdown: 61% Black, 14% Hispanic/Latinx, 12% white, and 12% other races/ethnicities.
LMD’s campaign included graphics that were representative of the community.
They also completed the research in English and Spanish, further serving the diverse group of research participants.
3. Video becomes the tool of choice for qualitative research
Research from Take Note found that 93% of market researchers are using online/video focus groups more often than three years ago.
They also discovered that 90% are using consumers’ online video submissions and in-depth video interviews more than they were three years ago.
The main reason behind this transition? Consumers are now much more comfortable being “on camera”.
Thanks to the pandemic, video conferencing platforms are now part of daily life for many people. In fact, more than 300 million people used Zoom every day during its peak.
Many consumers are willing to share feedback about products and brands using video testimonial software (searches are up 300% in 5 years).
Experts agree that companies can gain more market insights through video than text.
Video is more interactive, more genuine, and provides “unspoken” data like body language, tone, and facial expressions.
Medallia’s LivingLens video software offers companies the opportunity to capture 6x more information with video surveys compared to open-ended text responses.
Nearly every industry is taking advantage of video-based market research, from automotive companies to the beverage industry, to healthcare organizations.
Del Taco recently launched a video feedback initiative. The company took advantage of more than 10 hours of customer video content in reaction to menu changes.
In the past, market researchers have been concerned about the scalability of video insights. Manually combing through hours of unedited video footage is nowhere near efficient.
But, in today’s market, video delivers fast results at scale.
Dozens of video analytics platforms exist.
Affectiva’s technology can “detect nuanced human emotions, complex cognitive states, activities, interactions, and objects people use”.
The company was recently acquired by Smart Eye, a Swedish technology company focused on eye-tracking systems, for $73.5 million.
Other companies, like Speak, use AI to transcribe consumer videos and analyze the text, creating a searchable database of media and insights.
Interest in “AI transcription” has exploded (up 2,800% in the last 5 years) and market researchers are seeing several benefits from these new tech tools.
4. Bringing market research in-house
Another response to the current demands placed on market researchers is bringing their efforts in-house.
Global consumer goods corporation P&G has cut its number of agency relationships by 60% over the past seven years. This has resulted in serious cash savings: $750 million.
One report by SurveyMonkey shows that more than half of market researchers estimate their use of full-service research vendors will decrease.
The same report said 70% of market researchers are very likely or somewhat likely to transition to more DIY tools in the next year.
In one example, Organic Valley adopted user-friendly tools that made it easier for coworkers outside of the research department to dive into the data and discover their own customer insights.
In 2023 and the years that follow, experts say more and more brands will bring research in-house.
Companies that are investing in in-house research see it as a way to keep their efforts customer-centric and use new technologies to empower their brand.
In essence, brands want more transparency, more control, and a streamlined process for market research.
Investors are taking notice of this trend.
The company commissioned the Forrester Consulting Total Economic Impact study, which found their market research platform provides an ROI of 319% over three years and $2.7 million in net benefits.
5. Faster, more cost-effective market research
Companies cannot afford to be slow in their market research.
In the post-pandemic world, businesses are acting 20-25x faster than usual when it comes to making certain changes.
As one CEO puts it, companies must have “accurate, up-to-the-minute research” if they hope to gain useful insights about their consumers and their business.
Traditional market research methods like focus groups still have their place. But speed is not their strength.
That’s where agile market research excels.
This type of market research is defined by gathering consumer feedback, applying technology, and launching campaigns quickly. That way, companies can test and make decisions without extended periods of time being devoted to each step.
For many businesses today, agile market research provides the benefits they desperately need.
Zappi is one agile market research platform that’s showing incredible growth.
At least part of this dedication to faster results is driven by budget constraints.
According to SurveyMonkey, 56% of companies have continued demand for market research but face limited or shrinking budgets.
Automated market research is one way to support the agile method and deliver quicker insights with fewer people on staff.
The results are pretty convincing: 60% of market researchers say automation allows them to deliver results faster, 50% say it’s allowed them to lower costs, and 80% of market researchers say they believe the trend will continue to grow.
6. Social media listening gives insights in real-time
Social media platforms are full of conversations, interactions, likes, and dislikes that are relevant to a business’ brand.
Each of these interactions is a window into the preferences and attitudes of a company’s target audience.
Social media listening involves gathering historical and real-time data from social media. Like other market research methods, this data can inform decisions and inspire new offerings.
Statistics show that 5.42 billion people worldwide will be using social media by 2025.
Better yet, 80% of what people post on social media is about themselves.
This means businesses that invest in social media research methods essentially have access to their target audience in real-time.
Those that can effectively monitor social media and make sense of the data will get a wealth of valuable information: what customers like, what they dislike, how they use products, what trends they’re interested in and much more.
Social media listening captures customer sentiment in real-time, like this Twitter post directed at Southwest Airlines.
With a variety of social media listening platforms and price-points, this type of market research method is available to businesses of any size.
Talkwalker is one of the most comprehensive social media listening platforms and was recently featured in a Forrester report as one of the “top 10 providers that matter most”.
More than 2,500 companies worldwide use Talkwalker.
The Talkwalker platform crawls nearly 150 million websites, 30,000 podcasts, more than 10 social media platforms, and 187 different languages.
Businesses should take note, though, one of the drawbacks of social media market research is the incidence of skewed results caused by herd mentality.
People on social media act impulsively and are largely swayed by other users. Which means the data isn’t always 100% accurate.
The market research trends that lie ahead on the horizon show us that social media, smartphones, and DIY data research should dominate the market in the near future.
Customer needs are constantly changing and that means market research will always be key to any successful organization.
The brands that can quickly and effectively anticipate customer wants and needs are the brands that will be able to surpass the competition and never look back.