The changing role of the market researcher
Digital transformation has empowered research teams and organizations across the globe, while the pandemic has highlighted the need for deeper insights. And we’ve all felt it.
From advanced statistical analysis tools to natural language processing, researchers can now uncover richer insights and act on them faster than ever before.
Through these new technologies, organizations are laying the foundation for more scalable and sustainable research practices. Teams can now carry out their own research — using tools that require no technical expertise — while researchers instead provide guidance, recommendations and practical tips on how to manage projects and apply findings.
Today, market researchers are no longer just the gatekeepers of insights, but also the executors of team-wide strategies and research projects. As organizations continue to implement research technologies, platforms and other statistical software, the role of the market researcher will continue to change, intertwining with the deployment of data-led programmes. Here, we look at just how the role of the market researcher is changing, shining a light on key topics such as platformification, embedded research, moving from insight to action and how teams can get even more value from their data.
Shifting to platformification
According to our 2022 Market Research Trends report, 77% of organizations view market research technology platforms as critical to their success. These organizations are investing heavily in market research platforms, consisting of product, brand, and customer experience research software.
Indeed, rather than several disparate tools and technologies for market research, the future of market research is “Platformification” — singular, holistic solutions that provide end-to-end analytical capabilities and unify qualitative and quantitative data.
Synonymous with tech-driven integration, “Platformification” enables organizations to streamline and combine established research methods, collaborative solutions, data sources, reporting and advanced analytics to get to the crux of insights.
For teams, it means that they can surface and share learnings quickly — for example, using role-based dashboards to provide basic or detailed insights and recommendations based on job level or department. They can also use advanced programs, such as R, to elevate findings. Interpreting data becomes that much easier and accessible as there are no longer any barriers to insight.
For market researchers and market research analysts, platformification makes surfacing critical insights more reflexive, on-demand and contextually representative across several business functions. For example, findings from one project can highlight consistencies and opportunities for another, or that departments can identify gaps that persist at different stages of the buyer’s journey. Also, a market research analyst could also work in tandem with a business unit to be its go-to for strategic insights and recommendations.
For businesses, platformification enables them to bring qualitative research and quantitative research together in a single location. This means researchers can begin to connect the dots in ways that were previously difficult and time-consuming, elevating market research from an exercise in simply understanding a market, to a process that helps to improve and design new experiences throughout an organization.
By having market research analysts work closely with individual business units, you can gradually build a data-driven, rather than a data-led culture. Teams will start to utilize findings from qualitative research and quantitative research at every stage of the process, providing long-term value and a sustainable and competitive research model.
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The rise of embedded market research functions
While market research has become an integral part of business marketing and growth — from understanding changing consumer behavior to creating unique experiences for customer segments — within many organizations, it still exists as a separate, disconnected function.
Few are capitalizing on the long-term value market research can offer. For many, it’s a means to an end — rather than an always-on, connected unit that can deliver valuable insight throughout the organization.
For example, any new project or campaign should be supported by regular insights — from the moment it goes live to the moment it ends. Products should be supported by research data, whether it’s behavioral information or customer preferences, throughout its lifecycle, and teams should be able to dip in and out of up-to-date research to inform strategies.
Teams running marketing programs, for instance, can start to leverage around-the-clock insights to tailor campaigns, messaging and products at scale, precisely when they need to. Sales trends can be isolated and assessed to help determine when to increase production or lower prices to benefit ROI.
However, according to research conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Qualtrics, while three quarters (75%) of organizations are committed to using data (market research) to design great customer experiences, less than half (42%) actually deploy solutions to execute them.
Furthermore, many firms lack the right solutions to drive market research that supports embedded market research. They don’t have the technologies to bridge data silos, share relevant insights across the organization or drive action at every level.
Instead, 75% say they fill these gaps in skills and technology with outsourcing, often for data analysis that uncovers opportunities for innovation. Most of their quantitative research involves working closely with market research companies to collect and analyze data. In addition, more tactical tasks (such as using quantitative and qualitative data to uncover opportunities for innovative experiences) are outsourced — sometimes to marketing agencies — something that could be managed in-house with platformification.
As more organizations embrace platformification to surface insights faster, it’s imperative that market research departments are at the heart of all data-led initiatives, not just providing the insights — but also the recommendations. This isn’t to say that organizations should stop outsourcing, but with an embedded market research function, researchers can find and act on insights faster, provide more contextual recommendations and exercise greater control over more important work. It’s here where the changing role of the market researcher comes into play.
How organizations embed research into every department starts with the centralization of all data-led projects and campaigns. They must then acquire the right people and establish robust, scalable processes to support data implementation at every stage. By eliminating silos and creating a single source of truth, it becomes possible for everyone — no matter what they do in the business — to benefit from market research, both now and in the future.
From insights to action
For so long the market researcher’s role has been intertwined with data collection, collation and analysis. In the future, however, the changing role of the market researcher means that, along with platformification and embedded market research functions, they will become the one-stop shop for insights and the execution of data-led strategies.
Soon, market researchers will be responsible for not just the collation and analysis of findings, but also support the changes and campaigns they inspire. Their role will be much more strategic and advisory, explaining how different teams and departments can truly leverage findings, as well as where they should prioritize research to achieve maximum ROI.
Over the years, we’ve been amassing more and more data through statistical software, applying analytics to draw out insights, but the most successful brands and businesses are those that take the next step and translate them into tangible change for their prospects, customers and employees.
The changing role of the market researcher is just one trend we’ve uncovered through our 2022 market research. For more on market research in 2022 — as well as what’s holding organizations and researchers back — download your free copy of the report using the link below.
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May 19, 2022