As the market research industry continues to face rapid technological, social and economic change, research agencies are increasingly up against challenges that must be overcome in order to meet client demands. With the proliferation of social media and the need for brands to generate awareness across different channels, it is crucial market research professionals rethink strategies to target audiences effectively, while continuously delivering results for clients.
Here are three of the most common challenges market research agencies are facing today, and solutions to overcome them.
Embracing new marketing trends
As the market research industry continues to be redefined by new technologies, it is important agencies embrace emerging trends to meet the requirements of clients. Content marketing across social channels has seen a greater level of investment throughout 2014 so far, as brands place a growing emphasis on using consumer insight to inform content that resonates well with fans and followers. With so many brands now vying for the same space within the social sphere, they need to ensure they are heard above the noise; market research agencies can rise to the occasion by going deeper than social listening and analytics tools to create comprehensive profiles of audience segments, offering high-quality insights into the type of content specific audiences actually want to see.
Additionally, market research agencies can remain a step ahead of competition by identifying new opportunities for sample sourcing which adhere to budget and resource constraints. API (application programming interface) integrations allow direct communication between supplier platforms and research agency systems, which streamlines and enhances the process of building research panels and obtaining insights from target demographics to inform future content. Sourcing from social media traffic and directly from publisher sites is also becoming more widely used by suppliers and buyers, especially in the US where building and maintaining double opt-in panels is becoming costly and challenging due to rising online advertising costs for recruitment and increased attrition rates and churn.
Heightened competition from outside of core MR industry
Many smaller, arguably more innovative and creative agencies, are now claiming space within the market research field, meaning there is heightened competition for existing organizations. The entry of non-traditional agencies providing insight and consultation to buyers of research looking to gain insights, often at sharper costs and tapping into off the shelf technology and tools, is piling on the pressure on the main incumbents in market research to up their game. Therefore it is integral that market research agencies look to adopt similar techniques and ensure that they remain as competitive as possible, especially when it comes to accessing survey participants and keeping the pool of respondents alive and kicking. Careful survey design and ensuring market research agencies add the real value with their expertise will not only differentiate but it will also work hand in hand with providing engaging content and survey opportunities to fuel the sustainability of online panels.
Furthermore, innovations in survey and panel management technology have led to a significant growth in the number of online panel communities. However, these are not all created with the rigorous screening procedures needed to ensure quality and reliable results. In particular, agencies not typically from within market research still establishing themselves within the field may not be fully aware of the full range of available research tools on offer, or best practices around sampling, so they may not be selecting the most appropriate panelists to survey on behalf of their clients.
This provides established market research agencies the opportunity to highlight their reliability and trustworthiness, building on longstanding relationships to serve clients with excellence. For instance, an established research agency working with a beauty brand will not only have a roster of carefully cultivated panels to tap into, but also will have proven channels by which to target and reach additional respondents as needed.
Ultimately, by creating connections between panelists, brands, and market research firms, the entire process of gathering intelligence is strengthened, quality tested, and streamlined. New agencies entering this field can also take advantage of this framework of course, turning competition into collaboration for the ultimate benefit of their clients.
Before starting on any campaign, market research agencies must identify audiences and the most effective ways of reaching out to them. With the attention spans of consumers dwindling in the current technological age, many organizations are realizing the benefits of a multi-channel approach in order to target respondents on behalf of clients.
To ensure the right consumer insights are obtained, market researchers can embrace new technologies such as facial recognition tools that monitor emotional response or eye-tracking software to provide more accurate responses based on what audiences actually see and feel when exposed to campaigns or even at the point of purchasing a product or service.
As the market research industry continues to evolve and shift due to new technologies, quality online panel communities remain a priority for market research agencies to continue obtaining valuable consumer insights. Through effectively targeting audiences, turning competition into collaboration and embracing new marketing trends, market researchers can ensure they are ahead of the game when it comes to informing successful client campaigns.
Bo Mattsson is the chief executive of Cint, a global provider of technology for survey sampling and obtaining market insight, via its OpinionHUB global panel exchange platform. Bo founded Cint in 1998 when he decided to apply his experience of trading online and panel management to the market research industry. He then took over as CEO in 2003 to revamp the core technology behind the market research tools and research panels into an exchange-based offering for respondent access. For further information, please visit www.cint.com.