Editor’s note: Sarah Schmidt is a managing editor at MarketResearch.com, a provider of market intelligence products and services.

The global marketing research services market is forecast to reach $115 billion by 2020, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 6.3 percent, according to a report on MarketResearch.com titled Market Research Services Market Global Briefing 2017 by the Business Research Company.

Thanks to a strengthening global economy, the demand for marketing research services is expected to rise across all industries. Marketing researchers will see an increased need for customer satisfaction surveys, as companies seek data-driven strategies to deliver standout products and services.

Technological innovation will also expand the range of tools and techniques that researchers have at their disposal. The report cites Loop Survey and Survey Monkey as prime examples. These mobile applications integrate with smartphones and tablets to provide real-time feedback from consumers.

Trends and strategies

Mobile surveys aren’t the only technology-driven trends impacting the work researchers perform. The report also highlights the following:

  • Micro surveys: Traditional long-form surveys are falling out of favor in some cases, as more companies seek instant feedback from large quantities of respondents using one-click e-mails and other short formats.
  • Big data analytics: Once viewed as a competitive threat to marketing researchers, big data analytics is increasingly being used as a complimentary tool to provide deeper insights into consumer behavior.
  • Advanced technologies: Eye-tracking technology – which measures a consumer’s attention span and reactions while shopping – is also being employed to capture unbiased insights.
  • Agile marketing research: Using an iterative and adaptive process that incorporates frequent, short cycles of feedback, agile marketing research is gaining popularity due to its ability to improve communication and generate quick actionable data and analysis.
  • Experimental research tools: Neuro research, semiotic image analysis and mobile ethnographies are gaining traction among some companies as well.
  • Virtual reality technology: Understanding customer’s decision-making process may become easier and more cost-effective with the creation of virtual store simulations, which can be used to determine optimal price and product placement.

Although new technologies will open some exciting possibilities for marketing researchers – potentially boosting revenue – it’s important to keep an eye on other factors that may restrain the market in the future.

Trump effect and the role of Brexit

In the past, globalization helped fuel the demand for research services. When companies expand into new markets, they often commission research to develop effective strategies to increase their global presence. However, the trend toward globalization may not be indefinite, as the report explains.

Brexit will likely result in more trade restrictions between the U.K. and other countries in Europe, and U.S. President Donald Trump has also expressed a desire to renegotiate many trade agreements, including NAFTA. Reductions in free trade could reduce overall consumption and global economic growth, and potentially weigh down the demand for consumer research as well. According to the International Monetary Fund, an increase in trade barriers could raise import prices by 10 percent and decrease exports by 15 percent in the next five years.

The perceived credibility of opinion polls is another restraining factor identified by the report. The failure of opinion polls to predict the U.K. Brexit referendum and the U.S. presidential election casts doubt on the validity of common research practices. The use of surveys and focus groups may come under increased scrutiny as a result.

Looking to the future

Despite recent events and current political uncertainties, the marketing research services market has a positive outlook overall with room for growth and innovation.

By understanding high-level technological trends and economic factors shaping the marketing research services market, client-side marketing researchers and research vendors can be better prepared for what the future may have in store.