Marketing research companies are experiencing low response rates and low engagement rates, so the industry is continuing to turn to technology to try to increase both. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of adults in the U.S. own a smartphone of some kind, and 46% say their smartphone is, “something they couldn’t live without.” Younger generations coming of age have never known a world without incredibly intelligent mobile devices. With the inevitable and exponential growth of technology, more streamlined mobile devices and the rise of the ‘always on’ consumer, these numbers will continue to grow dramatically.
Technology enables us to connect with consumers anytime, anywhere and on the device they prefer. But in this ever-changing ‘swipe right, swipe left’ digital world, are we making it too easy for the consumer to break-up with us? Across the marketing research industry, product launches, blog posts and presentations are focused on the same big ticket item: make the customer, or the consumer, feel like they are individuals and that each one of them truly matters. In Tinder terms, make them swipe right for market research! It sounds like such a simple and obvious premise, but the reality is this ‘quick fix’ will lead to more sharing of information, more engagement, better data and more accurate market decisions.
What’s the proposal for how to do this? You can start by asking ‘Why.’
- Brands need to start spending more time (and budget!) on ‘why’ consumers are doing what they are doing. Stop asking 'who', 'what', 'where', 'when' and focus and ask about 'why.' And let people tell you in their own words; technology can be used to turn open ended responses into statistical data that marketers can easily use (as evidenced in our own research on incorporating video open ends into surveys).
- Use passively collected data, for example from a metering device or a wearable tech activity tracker, to fill in the general habit (what, when, where) & demo (who) information, and then ask people questions that relate specifically to them, and to their precise circumstances (why). Increasingly, our clients are turning to data appends to help with the 'why.'
- Extrapolate the larger market specific information from a handful of survey-takers; instead of using thousands of people's data to make market decisions, use technology to help get the same result from a much smaller pool of people.
- In general, better survey design: stop asking the same questions over and over again, make surveys shorter and more pointed. Make mobile friendly surveys.
- 'Be the consumer' and help your clients build a survey that they would like to take.
- Make surveys that are 'gamified'; create social networks and game-like apps that help answer the client’s or brand’s question.
Some companies are looking to solve the problem by adopting new technology, some by really working with the end client to make friendlier surveys that are more updated and resonate with younger audiences, others by looking at 'big data' or passive data to key into respondents that will drive the market decisions, and others by adjusting the data in the back-end to get to the same results. The important take-away is to always remember that without the ‘why’ the ‘how’ might not get you where you want to be.
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