Every year in December and then the following January (and even into February), the blogosphere is full of posts about the “most important trends”, the “most disruptive trends” or “some other general warning trends”of the year. But how valuable are those blogs? Are they actually telling us something new and different? Or just reiterating what we should already know.
We took a look at several trend blogs for the past three years. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same set of articles for each year. (Apparently the “trend” topic is a little overdone, and bloggers are reluctant to post about it every year!) But it is still interesting to look at three most recent years, and the trends that marketing researchers felt should be identified.
Here’s a summary:
|2013 Trends||2014 Trend||2015 Trends|
|· There will be a concerted move toward shorter, faster micro surveys.
· Sample will become more representative.
· Mobile is its own method: you can’t force fit mobile.
· Data will be more visual.
· There will be a new openness to innovation and technology in the market research industry.
|· Big Data and samples will come to be seen as complementary.
· Online survey panels will become increasingly important and clever.
· Rapid online surveys will prove a damaging trend.
· Social media analysis will continue to grow in importance.
· Automated Marketing Managers will become the new Dream Team.
|· Marketing Executives demand that marketing research providers deliver insights that lead to better business decisions.
· Marketing research is becoming diffused throughout the organization.
· Automation will create efficiencies in marketing research.
· The internet will continue to drive Marketing Research innovation.
· Business Intelligence makes inroads into Marketing Research.
· The influence of Big Data will continue to grow.
So what did we learn? Are we any good at predicting the future? Some thoughts:
- Interesting that in 2013 we noted a trend to micro-surveys, and then in 2014 a trend saying that shorter, faster surveys will be damaging. From the perspective of 2016, we have to say that shorter, faster surveys are indeed what is needed, but unfortunately, many marketing researchers have not yet embraced this trend. With plummeting response rates, and marketing executives under intense time pressure, shorter and faster is where we need to be.
- Automated marketing managers are mentioned in both 2014 and 2015. While we have yet to see a tremendous impact on the marketing research industry, it is only a matter of time, so keep an eye on this one.
- Big Data is mentioned in both 2014 and 2015, and its importance continues strongly into 2016. It is now clear that Big Data will never be the only tool you need to understand your markets. But exactly how Big Data fits in with other more traditional marketing research techniques is still being developed.
- Mobile – and the Internet of Things (IoT) – has changed the marketing industry in profound ways. And as more and more of our business and personal lives move online, there is no sign that this will be less important and influential. Watch for continued innovation and development around this trend.
- The representativeness of sample was mentioned in 2013, with the trend to online panels mentioned in With rapid changes in mobile and online device usage, it is difficult to understand whether samples are more or less representative than in the past. This is an area that deserves greater evaluation – from sample providers, marketing researchers and clients as well.
It appears that the blogosphere is pretty good at identifying the most important themes in our industry, but the value of looking at trends on a single year basis is inconclusive. (That’s why they call them trends, right?) Our industry is changing, there is no doubt about that. But the caution remains: look before you leap!