Market Research Then and Now | Best Market Research Firms

Much like the digital marketing landscape, the market research industry has been revolutionized in the past 10 to 15 years. Changes in technology, buyer preferences, and user preferences has driven a shift in methodologies. This has largely flipped the industry on its head and has forced even the best market research firms to adjust.

A simple example of how the digital landscape has changed things is by looking at simple use case: Uber and a meme I saw months back. Think back 20 years. We had 2 rules. Do not talk to strangers on the internet. Do not get into stranger's cars. Now fast forward to now. We are literally summoning strangers from the internet to get into their car and paying them.

This digital transformation has altered nearly every industry including market research. Let's take a closer look at market research then and market research now.

Market Research Then and Now | Best Market Research Firms

What will the next 20 years in market research have in store for some of the best market research firms? Only time will tell.

Market Research Then

When I talk about market research "then" I am referring to 10, even up to 15 and 20 years ago. How methodologies were applied was much different than what is used today.

Mail Surveys

This was one of the more common methodologies in market research a while back. The process involves prepping a paper copy of a survey and sending it to households. This often includes a cover letter to explain the process. These surveys can be long and the entire process is costly and time consuming. We often leave our mail surveys projects open for 4 weeks of fieldwork to allow time to respond. Add on the time to prep, assemble, post mark, enter data, analyze, and create a report and you are easily looking at an 8 to 10 week project.

Mail surveys have made somewhat of a resurgence in the past few years. This is driven by the entire shift to digital. People are overwhelmed by email. Think back 20 years, you were excited to get an email and ignored your mailbox. Now, you are inundated with email, but you check your mail.

Phone Surveys

This is another costly and time consuming study. This involves hiring callers at a call center and letting them dial through a list of your customers until they get 400, 600, or 800 to receive feedback. You can see why this was an inefficient way to do market research. Here's 7 reasons the phone survey died in market research.

These projects typically take about 6 to 8 weeks to complete. The transition to cell phones has caused further complications with phone surveys. In the past 10 years, the number of cell phone only households began outnumbering the number of landline households. With users keeping their cell phone even if they move out of state, it further causes complications to geographically target respondents.

Desktop Surveys

These still exist. Many respondents still opt to take a survey via desktop or laptop. But the number is dwindling. If anything you want to ensure you use a platform that is device responsive. This means if your respondent takes the survey via phone, tablet, or desktop, the survey adjusts automatically to the screen.

Market Research Now

The majority of our clients opt to run their Voice of Customer (VoC) digitally now. No methodology is more cost-effective and timely than an email survey. Since everyone owns a cell phone now and most are attached at the hip to it (literally), it has opened doors and access to research participants at any time of the day.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

Based on analysis from Greenbook, 2017 marked the first year more surveys were taken via a mobile device than using any other device including desktop. This is a paramount shift in the industry. Surveys used to be designed to keep the small percentage of mobile users happy. Now, even the best market research firms design with mobile-first in mind.

This means short surveys, concise invites, engaging surveys, and even surveys with larger text. Going back to the old newspaper terminology, keep the survey question "above the fold" so respondents do not have to scroll. Scrolling requires effort. Scrolling decreases engagement and increases chances of drop out.

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Drive Research is a market research firm in Upstate New York. As one of the best market research firms, our organization focuses in both qualitative and quantitative market research. Questions about market research? Wondering about next steps? Need a quote or proposal?

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