LMD's Take on the Top Three Market Research Trends in the Digital Age

Market research has changed significantly from just five years ago. The market research industry is constantly evolving to keep up with new technologies and platforms that streamline processes. It's now easier than ever to conduct market research from your desk with little or no outside resources. Surveys can be conducted online through over fifty online platforms, social media sites can be mined for valuable data, and big data sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau provide free and valuable information. And those are just a few examples!

That's not to say that tried-and-true research methods, such as one-on-one interviews and focus groups, have been kicked to the curb—they still have their place as proven methods to gather rich data. But the following three emerging research techniques are making market research easier, faster, more accurate, and more cost-effective—without compromising data quality.

These are just a few of the trends that make market research more valuable, easy, and yes, even exciting. By taking advantage of them, and combining them with traditional research methods, you'll get insight on your customers and constituents that you never thought was possible.

  • Big data. You've probably heard this buzzword thrown around a lot—but what does it actually mean? Big data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your organization that provides a source for ongoing discovery and analysis. For example, Amazon uses big data to increase customer engagement and, of course, increase the likelihood that you'll hit the "buy it now" button. Every time you see "We have recommendations for you" on your Amazon home page, that's big data at work. Organizations often overlook the data that can be mined from their lead-gen and sales databases. Therein may lay clues to how customers behave, what they buy, how they buy, and how to reach them.
  • Social media monitoring. Social media is a great way to engage your customers in conversations and increase your organization's visibility. But did you know it also offers valuable data that you can use for reporting, research, and decision-making? Analyzing public Facebook posts and tweets, blogs and comments, ungated communities such as forums, public Pins, YouTube videos/comments can tell you a lot about your current and potential customers. Social monitoring tools pull together all of the data from the social media sites where your company is active to give you valuable information that can strengthen your word-of-mouth and peer-to-peer marketing strategy.
  • Online qualitative research. The Internet has opened up a whole new realm of research possibilities. With online focus groups, you can conduct research with qualified participants in any location—around the country or around the world. Participants "meet" in a virtual focus group "room" to share their opinions about your organization, services, and products, as well as top-of-mind issues and trends. Online focus groups do have their pros and cons, though. They can reduce costs, make data available more quickly, and can make it easier to collect data from hard-to-reach participants—such as doctors and senior business executives. The downside is that you can't pick up on participants' non-verbal cues, and monitoring responses can be a juggling act because participants can all "talk" at the same time. When considering an online focus group, think about whether it's important to have face-to-face interaction.