Published Apr 21, 2022
Sej Patel, Country Director, Australia and New Zealand at Toluna
Originally published by Research News
Living through a pandemic changes people and, over the past two years, consumer behaviour has changed dramatically. Throughout the health crisis, consumers’ needs, wants, and behaviours have evolved significantly, putting enormous pressure on brands to stay abreast of ever-changing trends. Now, as we enter the pandemic’s third – and hopefully final – year, businesses are still playing catch up and grappling with attempts to understand just how much consumer behaviours have changed.
In a turbulent economic environment with increasing pressure to deliver returns, businesses simply cannot ignore the very real changes happening in the consumer market right now. The savviest brands will use these changes to their advantage, gaining key insights about the post-Covid-19 consumer that help them inform their strategic business decisions this year and into the future.
Full-service research was once considered the Holy Grail, despite the significant costs and weeks of turnaround time it entailed. However, the recent increase in the pace of change has underscored just how dated such lengthy research has become and has highlighted a very real need to switch to faster, technology-driven insights that can keep up with shifting sentiment.
We now live in a world where tech enabled consumer insights can be delivered in just days – sometimes even hours – and at a fraction of the cost. Greenbook’s GRIT report states that 83 per cent of insights professionals are feeling budget pressure1, and 58 per cent of those experienced a budget decrease, so improving research efficiencies while also reducing cost has never been more important.
When organisations look to improve efficiencies, the answer is often found in technology – and research is no exception. Gartner’s 2022 CMO Spend Survey found that organisations now assign almost a third (30%) of their budgets to tech platforms2 – a figure we can only expect to increase in the coming years as more brands understand how tech-led research can deliver consumer insights more quickly and more efficiently.
Today’s market is changing at breakneck speed, and brands are expected to make decisions in record time to beat their competitors to market. With significantly less time-to-insight, increased competition, and the ever-changing consumer, brands must now have access to real-time consumer insights that keep up with the increased pace of change.
When companies spend too much time on the research process, they have less time for understanding insights, which are ultimately the most valuable part of market research. Research technology slashes the time it takes to run the research, allowing companies to maximise the time spent on analysing insights and adjusting business strategy accordingly.
Insights professionals are under increasing pressure to deliver more for less. But not only does research technology improve efficiencies at the research stage, it completely transforms the entire marketing effort. With shifts in consumer behaviour and sentiment being captured in real time, marketers can adjust efforts on-the-go.
Consumer insights are critical for informing strategic business decisions. Yet, data can sometimes be overwhelming for even the most seasoned professionals. Research technology simplifies the entire research process, getting the real-time reporting and data into marketers’ hands so they can make decisions faster and more efficiently.
Considering the cost, time, and resources required, the business risk of launching a new product or service is quite high. Despite this, the Gartner CMO Strategic Priorities Survey 2021 shows that 39 per cent of chief marketing officers plan to increase sales of existing products to existing customers, while 34 per cent aimed to introduce new products to existing customers in 20213. Research technology provides brands with the ability to test-and-learn as they go, drastically mitigating the risk associated with new product launches.
Real time, technology-driven research is so much more than speed and efficiency. Having access to these insights gives marketers the ability to answer critical questions for internal stakeholders, allowing the business to make more informed strategic decisions.
Research technologies can provide researchers with the right tools to identify new opportunities, and understand which ones should be pursued, and which ones should be left alone.
Research technology is advancing at a rapid rate. The inclusion of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) has completely transformed the speed at which data can be analysed, with machine learning technologies able to analyse sentiment in open-ended questions in a way that we could have only dreamed of 10 years ago.
Although advancements in research technology won’t render traditional, full-service research obsolete, more and more companies are now investing in agile research solutions. As AI technologies continue to improve – getting smarter, day after day – research technology will only become more efficient, more cost effective, and more critical for businesses. As the pace of change continues to accelerate, brands who do not have access to always-on, real-time consumer insights simply will not be able to compete in this ever-changing market.