Doom. Gloom. Death. Destruction.

“The world as we know it is no longer.”  

“We’ll be out of jobs in ten years…  Maybe less.”




Over it.

… And this frustrates me no end.  The market research world is changing / has changed, but let’s look a little wider.  It is not just us. All industries are changing.  All industries are being forced to deal with the digital revolution in their own way, facing their own digital challenges.  The music industry has been forever changed by digital technology (Napster anyone?).  It was perhaps the first industry to face down the changes that operating in the digital world presents.  They were (seemingly) slow to react, and were harmed by this, but are now innovating.  Finding new ways to make money, stay relevant and reinvent now their world operates by new rules.

It sometimes seems to me that market research is responding to “Big Data” (or as someone more accurately described it to me the other day “Drowning in Data”) and increasing availability of DIY research tools in a similar way that the music industry responded to Napster.

“It’s just a phase people are going through”

“People will come back to us.  We offer ‘real research’, not this cheaper, low quality stuff”

“It’s only the young doing it”

“What we offer is ‘better”, people will come around to our way of thinking once they’ve been burnt”

This feels short-sighted.  Time will only tell.  But it does seem to me that we need to think about what these shifts mean, and take them seriously – rather than dismissing them as a trend.  I do think “digital” (whatever that means, and however it ends up) is here to stay.

So I think that we need to focus on the skills market researchers offer that make us unique  and evolve, now, rather than when it is too late.

We can curate data – be the life buoy in a sea of data

We can find the insight.  What is relevant, and what is ‘just noise’

We can bring the science.  There will still be a need for rigor and integrity in the way data is collected.

We also need to look at the barriers to entry that new methods are breaking down and see what we can learn as an industry.

Consider. Ambient data collection (e.g. location-based apps, photo uploading)

Consider. Making information digestible (tell us what the data means, not what the data is)

Consider. Lowering the cost of entry (Google surveys, survey monkey, web scrapping… the Napster and YouTube of our data collection and distribution?)

Consider. Increasing approach-ability  (ok, so that’s not a word – but let’s try to make research more understandable, and less tied up in method and science designed to keep the lay person out)

Consider. Real world data collection (versus, what people ‘remember’ doing)

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with the hope of a different outcome.  I think that that’s something worth pondering.

Have a great week!

3 thoughts on “The end of the world as we know it

  1. Nice article.

    MR is facing some challenges. Falling back on a defence of tried and tested technique, and lobbing stones from the sidelines at new ways of discerning what people think, is probably not going to cut it.

    As you point out though I think there’s lots the MR industry can do. The main test will be – “can we add value”. If we can then we’ll be fine. If we cannot then no amount of moaning will change what’s going to happen.

  2. Hi Victoria

    I agree 100%. I share your passion for and excitment about the opportunities, not clinging to the past. In the end, let’s remember that it was Apple that benefited, not the music industry. I could easily see that happening to us – but again not all of us!

    Look forward to the debate

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