2014 proved to be a great year for online qualitative research technologies as more and more marketers, agencies and researchers have discovered the benefits of using online qual to mine consumer insights. Here are my Top 5 emerging trends for 2015.
1. Consumers will continue to invest in online technology, further opening the window into their world
The international landscape has changed rapidly in the past 5 years with the continued adoption of smartphones and broadband around the world. As recent as 2010 we were still sending out Flip video cameras so respondents could videotape and upload their world to us digitally. Now they have super sophisticated inexpensive smartphones and tablets enabling them to share with greater ease. This has given us a larger pool of qualified respondents with the ability to connect with us delivering richer insights – faster and cheaper. As a result, Digital Ethnography (video) will play a greater role in the online research methods mix.
2. Client adoption and use of online qualitative will accelerate
The GRIT report suggests there are still some clients out there who have yet to make the leap to online qual. Shocking yes, but with the online methods becoming so much more sophisticated, effective and arguably cheaper than face-to-face methods, the laggards will make the leap. 2015 will be the year that holdout marketers and researchers cross the threshold into online qual.
3. Recruiting will get better…more refined panels with better respondents
Right now studies lasting more than 1 day/1 activity are best recruited the old fashioned way – focus group style. The large quant sample panel providers have been understandably reluctant to cede contact/control to researchers on studies that last more than a few days. Multi-day/multi-week studies involve a very high level of engagement between the researcher and respondents, requiring a higher level of connectivity that focus group style recruiting delivers. Unfortunately, focus group style recruiting is typically more expensive than quant sample. I believe this will begin to change in the coming year as the quant sample houses push to get in on the online qual action, modifying some of their respondent contact/control constraints to make longitudinal studies more viable and less expensive. Or, traditional online qual recruiting will get less expensive. Or both!
4. Data Management tools will become more powerful and easier to use
For those who regularly conduct online qual studies you know how much data they can produce. Text Analytics software cannot write the report for you (yet!) but it certainly can help shape the narrative and give more credence to your findings. These tools continue to get more effective and easier to use. You need to try them now if you haven’t already.
5. Researchers are evolving – and new talent is entering the MR space
Go to any conference and you will see first-hand the new wave of research talent establishing themselves in the industry. They are smart, open-minded and fully embrace technology and all of the promise it holds for qualitative research. They grew up on computers, tablets and smartphones and recognize these tools as an essential part of everyday life and value the role these omnipresent technologies play in the lives of consumers/respondents. Their innovative ideas on how online tools work are having a dramatic impact shaping new methods.