2023 has seen a huge uptick in the use of AI technology by “regular” users – what was once confined to the those with advanced knowledge and a keen interest in computer programming (we’re looking at our Data Scientist, Kara, here!) has increasingly been used and adopted by those of us who are still pretty proud of that time we learned how to do pivot tables in Excel…
But what does this mean for market research? Over the course of 2023, I have seen some huge changes, both in the way that we undertake research and analyse the data we collect at England Marketing, as well as in the ways that our clients are implementing research and data gathering into their day-to-day operations. As 2024 approaches, I have been reflecting on the top trends and changes in market research that I believe we will see in the coming year, and in this article, I’ll be sharing those that I think will be making the biggest impact!
1. Text Analysis
A surge in the use of voice messaging has also given rise to an increase in the use of voice to make notes and conduct Google searches (or insert other search engine of choice!) leading to more detailed searches and opening an opportunity to gain valuable qualitative data in a way that is accessible, efficient, and which lessens the burden of providing feedback for your customers. Suddenly, laborious review gathering processes are becoming a thing of the past. Your customers have a voice, an opinion, and the means to capture their feedback in their pockets – all you need is the right tool to capture those views.
As the capabilities of the technology available to analyse audio files and feedback continually advance, we are seeing a huge opportunity opening up for our clients. We have been swift to adopt these methods, developing systems to support the analysis of audio files to provide you with a comprehensive summary of key topics and themes, sentiment analysis, and comprehensive readings of the emotions behind the feedback given. This software provides huge opportunities for gathering customer feedback and turning it into meaningful data and insights that provide so much more than a simple overview of simply what was said, and we see huge opportunity in it for clients wishing to engage with their customers in a more meaningful way. I genuinely believe that we will see a significant rise in the use of qualitative data to capture insights. Gone are the days where quant is king, as new technologies transform qualitative data into measurable insights backed up by scientific processes, with the added bonus of capturing respondents’ true thoughts and feelings, not just the tick boxes we’ve provided for them.
2. Increased Merging of Qualitative and Quantitative Methods
Historically, we have found that qualitative research has often been seen as a “nice to have”. Clients are interested in surveys that deliver quantitative insights as the frontline in research, with focus groups and interviews that gather qualitative data generally only being utilised where budget allows. As AI analysis and the use of technology to analyse qualitative data becomes more commonplace, the data is becoming much more measurable and less differentiated from its quantitative counterparts, whilst still obtaining the in-depth insights and variance in tone, sentiment, and individual influence that makes qualitative data so valuable.
With this in mind, I fully anticipate that we will start to see an increase in qualitative methodologies in both a standalone capacity and as an initial stage of research that could then be validated with quantitative results. Whilst I would certainly embrace this, knowing the technology that we have at our fingertips here at England Marketing, I would also stress the importance of ethnographic research to those considering adopting a different approach. Whilst online qualitative data gathering can be more cost-effective and convenient, nothing compares to the depth and intricacy of detail that we can capture during face-to-face research. From reading and assessing body language, eye movement tracking, galvanic skin response measures, utilising facial expression and speech recognition software, even down to using brain scanning technology in a recent project, face-to-face research allows us to truly get to the bottom of what participants are thinking and feeling, far beyond providing a simple summary of their commentary.
3. Addressing Skills Gaps
The utilisation of AI in research increasingly makes large-scale qualitative analysis more affordable and achievable, both in-house and within commissioned research projects. However, this increase in capability in some areas is also highlighting skills gaps in others, and researchers, both in-house and agency side, will need to embrace change and upskill to keep pace with these developments.
As desk research and qualitative analysis become more automated and credible questionnaire structures can increasingly be created by ChatGPT, research teams will need to upskill in areas such as coding, programming, and prompt writing to stay ahead of the curve. None of this is to say that I believe skilled researchers will become obsolete through the use of AI – far from it! AI brings its own challenges to research; with “spam bots” becoming ever more convincing, there is a notable risk to data credibility and successful research outcomes without robust measures in place to detect and remove these responses.
At England Marketing, we have a huge number of automated security measures in place, but none of these are infallible, and sometimes it does come down to carefully maintained panels, robust data validation and hygiene processes, and, eventually, a skilled “human in the loop” to identify and remove any false responses, ensuring our clients can have confidence in the research outputs. Concerningly, I know that England Marketing’s data hygiene and security measures are more rigorous than many, and I feel strongly that in 2024 other research projects will need to match these in order to continue to deliver meaningful outcomes from which decisions can be made with confidence.
How Can England Marketing Help?
If this article has sparked your interest and you’d like to chat about how England Marketing is utilising technology to deliver in-depth insights that go far beyond simple charts and tables to the very heart of the issue, then please get in touch using the form below and let’s arrange a time to chat about how we can support you.