As client-side researchers are bombarded with news of the latest innovations in marketing research – AI, automation and blockchain, among others – they continue to struggle with the challenges of limited budgets, small teams and tight turnaround times. Many are left wondering, who is using the latest-and-greatest tech in the real world? What tools are fellow client-siders turning to? What methodologies and technologies do they expect to use next?

Here at Quirk’s we believe in going straight to the source to get a better sense of what trends are really affecting the day-to-day work of client-side researchers. In our 2018 Corporate Researcher Survey we asked client-siders to share the technology, tool or technique that has had the biggest impact on their deliverables in the past year. We received a wide variety of responses including: communities, passive data collection, agile solutions, big data, journey-mapping, blockchain and cloud capabilities. On the flip side, a few respondents reported “none” or “nothing,” with one saying, “we still use outdated tech.” 

In addition to our annual survey, in Quirk’s Marketing Research Review’s Before You Go series, “10 minutes with a corporate researcher” – a Q&A-style conversation between Quirk’s and client-side market researchers – we asked several researchers to share the tools and/or methodologies they hope to focus on in the next year. 

A few responses suggest a keen interest in trying new tools and tech, even if it will be a while before they can dive in: 

“While I might not be able to next year, I would love to find ways to incorporate neuroscience into research. I’m fascinated by what happens subconsciously when people make decisions or see certain content and would love to better understand this methodology and how it can be incorporated into research. Many companies are currently doing this with ad testing and I would love to be able to see this in action and understand how consumers really think and make decisions. There have been some innovative developments in this field and it would be amazing to try this out sometime in the future.

“One other thing I want to explore is how to incorporate virtual reality into research. I am an early adopter of new technology and have my own VR setup and there are many amazing things that could be done to put consumers in a virtual environment to test their behaviors such as shopping or interacting with future products.” Tyler Kettle, Google 

“Obviously, the world of AI and VR are starting to make a significant impact on the industry. I think the applications of these technologies will only advance and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the next industry shift in methodological approach a la online research 10-to-15 years ago.” Brooks Deaton, NASCAR 

“I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting methodologies! I haven’t had the pleasure of using virtual reality in any of my research projects yet and I’m really interested in trying that out. I’ve also seen quite a few demos and studies on neuroscience that have piqued my interest!” Victor Chia, Verizon 

Others are shifting focus on tools and techniques that help them share insights internally and with customers. The push to find new ways to prove the value of insight teams is greater than ever: 

“We’re looking into better data management to pull insights across multiple sources of data and being more proactive in pursuing research projects rather than only responding to requests. We’re planning on launching our own home cook survey to start trending our different types of customers’ cooking habits and attitudes over time. 

“I also want to explore greater sharing of insights both internally and with customers. We’re working on establishing a consumer insights newsletter to send out internally, and I want to work on potentially telling consumers specific ways in which their feedback was used to inform improvements to our products.” Chelsea Cutino, America’s Test Kitchen 

“For our advertising partners where demonstrating ad effectiveness is key, integrating facial coding or emotion analysis with brand research will be relevant.” Salima Nathoo, Dow Jones | Wall Street Journal    

Focus on quality


No matter what course of action client-side researchers plan to take in 2019, almost everyone we spoke to made a point of reminding us that it doesn’t matter how new or old a tool or methodology is but rather how effective it is in helping them deliver quality data and insights:  

“I’m open to trying new methodologies but my impression is that some of the newer options are not as cost-efficient and don’t necessarily collect data that’s higher quality than the existing methodologies we’re currently using. However, I am keeping an open mind about it!” Irene Lin, Smart & Final 

“In the year ahead, no doubt our team will continue to experiment with new approaches and tools where there is value – but ultimately, we’ll be looking at ways to holistically understand our customers’ needs and wants and create strategies that can guide us on where to play and how to win.” Salima Nathoo, Dow Jones | Wall Street Journal    

If you’d like to learn more about the state of the industry from the client side, watch for new Q&As in each issue of Quirk’s.