The marketing research industry as we’ve known it for decades is disappearing. It is on the cusp of a great “coming together”—a grand fusion of intelligence-provider subsegments to deliver solutions demanded by clients in the era of Big Data.
The offerings developed by research providers, and the business models created to deliver them, will continue to be driven by clients’ evolving needs for market intelligence. The disruptive effects of technology-enabled solutions to leverage the Big Data phenomenon have substantially altered those expectations. This fact was recently supported in a document released by Cambiar, the Boston Consulting Group and the Yale School of Management. In the report, “Trends Shaping The Future Of Market Research – A Client Perspective,” clients foresee shifting greater time and resources to the concentration on data analytics/ mining and integration of multiple data streams while less emphasis is placed on traditional areas of focus such as ad tracking, brand tracking and brand awareness and usage. This will perpetuate an environment in which the function of survey research continues to be absorbed into a rapidly transforming collection of market intelligence subdisciplines. It will also perpetuate the attraction of players not previously considered partners or competitors in the traditional marketing research space.
As existing providers in this morphing space, how do we respond to remain viable in the eyes of our clients? Much has been written about the need for transformation and corresponding best practices in terms of broad business principles. But how does the provider community retool with specific capabilities to meet this evolving demand?
The marketing research industry has always been adroit at adopting new disciplines, such as web data collection, real-time delivery of data and video focus groups. This individual company enhancement evolution continues. Indeed, every month we read about providers developing and launching new capabilities to broaden their market offerings. But the transformative speed, capital requirements and technology applications required to compete with forces from outside our traditional boundaries can make homegrown organic responses insufficient.
Consequently, there are increasing signs of convergence— inorganic plays to assemble various disciplines required for integrative solutions. Often the players are from beyond our traditional space, such as Salesforce’s recent acquisitions of Implicit (predictive analytics), MinHash (social media aggregation) and Evariant (enterprise feedback management). Additionally, on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Platform, customers are now invited to assemble and launch combined data collection, analysis and visualization tools. There are already 69 survey app components available to choose from, including recognizable sources such as Qualtrics, Walker, Medallia and IMS Health.