MROCs (Market Research Online Communities) and the ability to harvest posts from the social web and analyse them using artificial intelligence are changing the face of market research. No suspense here: Market Research will be democratized in the (hopefully not too distant) future. Market Research will be available and affordable not just for blue chip multinationals with huge revenues but for companies of all sizes, including startups and SMEs (small and medium enterprises).
The way Market Research is conducted will of course be different than what it was in the past. In order for this industry and its services to be easy to access, affordable to any company, and fast to conduct, all processes should be adapted through and through.
Ideas such as ‘self service’ will become increasingly accepted and common, and companies will be able to order their market research in a seamless online process, just like consumers order products and pay using their credit card with the click of a button. One great success story of a ‘self service’ product in Market Research is of course SurveyMonkey, which has grown tremendously in its lifetime and is now moving into the corporate space.
I believe that the use of technology will be a huge factor in this shift of how the industry works, as it has the power to make research cheaper, faster, and easier. If it costs less (both in the literal sense as well as time-wise) for a Market Research agency to conduct accurate research and analysis and reach actionable insights for its clients, that gives it the ability to viably offer its services to smaller companies with small budgets for MR. That in turn means that companies can benefit from market research at any stage of their development, and make better informed decisions. Market Research will no longer be a “luxury” that only the big players can afford and enjoy.
Furthermore, the possibilities of analysing and integrating data from various sources using technology are endless. This of course is not even about the future; it has already started. Technology, specifically Machine Learning makes it possible to analyse text, audio, and visuals (images/videos) in a fast, affordable, automated way. Online communities enable agile and on demand MR. We can now ask, listen, and view in order to collect customer perceptions.
As described in the book ‘Zero to One’ by Peter Thiel, individuals and companies can create a monopoly for themselves instead of competing in an existing industry; create something new and be the only ones offering it. This is about starting a business with an idea that no one else had before – I think there is room to do exactly that in any industry, including MR. Going back to the SurveyMonkey example, even though they do have competition nowadays, when they first started it was a Zero to One situation; they were offering MR in the form of online surveys to individuals and companies who could previously not afford it. It would be very interesting to see (more) new ideas, new processes, and new technologies for MR in the future. So here’s to listening247 the SurveyMonkey of “social listening” and communities247 the SurveyMonkey of “private online communities” that will democratize the new market research industry even further.