The world is changing dramatically. Consumers are more connected than ever, and technology has enabled companies to create, and bring new products to market, with significantly fewer resources than ever before. So the question becomes, what steps do we as researchers have to take to help our clients not only maintain market share, but to drive growth?
The answer is fairly straightforward; we need to help our clients become closer to their consumers, allowing them to better understand their motivations, while at the same time being able to help them anticipate the future. The difficulty, however, is how do we accomplish this in a connected world of over 7 billion people where consumers are influenced by more information than we have ever seen in our lifetime.
At Ipsos SMX we have identified four very important principals that we believe must be followed to help our clients remain competitive. These are:
1. Multiple data streams
To fully understand consumers today, their motivations, and personal journeys, single data streams are no longer enough. We need to leverage multiple data sources, which provide us access to different touch points, such as shopping behavior to fully understand consumers. And with the use of passive data, many times, we can do this in an even less intrusive manner than we do today.
2. Analytical frameworks
As we begin to look at multiple sources of structured and unstructured data, across multiple markets, we must have frameworks to help us make sense of the data, as well as provide consistency in our analysis. Too many times we see information coming from different sources, and markets, that without frameworks clients are unable to make actionable decisions.
3. Local experts
As research methodologies move towards engaging with consumers, local experts are no longer a luxury but a necessity, as hubs can no longer provide the support necessary. Companies must have local experts who understand the culture, local community, and technology to successfully build relationships and uncover insights.
4. Anticipate the future
As the world continues to move at speeds never seen before it is not enough to provide answers to the questions that we know to ask. Thus, we must listen to consumers in order to uncover questions, opportunities and risks that we had not thought of before. And more importantly, we must engage with consumers directly and make their voice an essential part of the decision making process.
Sounds easy, right? Multiple data streams, analytical frameworks, local experts and a dashboard… Maybe. But, we also need to do this against the backdrop of what many call the “Share Economy” where resource utilization is key and “better, faster, cheaper” has become the norm (think Uber or AirBnB).
In my experience driving this type of change in an established business, with embedded methodologies and norms, is not an easy task. But, make no mistake, if we as researchers want to maintain our market share, and continue to grow, we must evolve. Otherwise, we run the risk seeing a competitor come in and take a significant piece of our business.
How do we do this?
I am not sure anyone has all of the answers, but without a doubt we must learn to engage with consumers in the ways they would like us to, and we must take advantage of technology to drive efficiencies around costs and time. We also need to develop products that integrate new innovations with existing methodologies to ensure internal and external adoption.
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