Digital Disruption – A Blessing or Curse For Market Research?

Is the ­­digital data avalanche the start of a new world that is destined to drive established research methods to obsolescence or extinction?

There is no doubt fast evolving emerging technologies, such as Automation and Artificial Intelligence, are contributing to some of the greatest challenges ever experienced in the market research and insight industry.

Software and ad-tech companies have been able to enter the market with programs that collect and interpret data far quicker and cheaper than traditional methodologies.

Information gathering heavyweights such as Google, Facebook and Amazon have entered the ring with the ability to fund and become early adopters of artificial and intuitive programs to automate the collection and interpretation of consumer insights on an industrial scale never witnessed before.

Silicon Valley programmers are developing customized machine algorithms that feed on information and recycle data patterns that could make predictive insights the norm.

Advanced machine learning engines are being utilized to personalize customer experiences in a way that strengthens and develops deeper relationships between their brands and customers.

Many traditional agencies are beginning to understand that an essential requirement of technology may well lie at the heart of their future existence and prosperity in the insight market, as they are confronted by a wave of new digital players.

But for some agencies their current concepts of data value and methods to reap its rich insight harvest falls far short by buying in digital tools and programs without a cogent game plan of how to navigate the digital maze that lies before them.

Many may speculate that some of the new methodologies are merely a trend destined to be a niche product rather than a game changer that will revolutionize the industry.

But clients are demanding greater levels of sophistication and insight than ever before and the data revolution is fuelling that drive.

The ability to see and react instantly with customers using digital methods means retailers can optimise and continually refine the end user experience.

There is still value in methods such as consumer panels, but behavioural data gleaned by machine learning programs that highlight real time actions by customers is leaving some clients questioning the relevancy of the traditional options that once seemed an automatic choice.

Despite the digital data boom there will still remain a demand for bespoke research to gain insights into the increasingly complex world of information. There is also some concern over the potential risk of exposure to flawed digital data (it’s only as good as the algorithm).

Successful researchers are not averse to risk and innovation. They embrace the changing face of the industry by investing in technology and by creating multi-skilled teams that can seamlessly process diverse information channels into one clear data set for clients.

The real industry pioneers and game changing agencies of the future will harness and decipher digital data to create truly actionable insight and strategic advice for their clients and brands.

Get in touch anytime for help identifying and recruiting the right talent to maximise your company’s success; or for help making the right next career move to maximise your potential.

Adapt Or Die – The Future of Qualitative Research

Can qualitative research survive as insight generation grows faster and utilises new technologies to provide the key information to drive brands and products forward?

Increasing numbers of clients want methods that immerse them in their consumers’ worlds and gain a greater insight into human behaviours. This will assist them in understanding the key connections between brands and people.

As the surge of Big Data continues, clients will expect researchers to not only leverage smarter techniques to decipher and deliver this outcome, but also help them to signpost clear forward planning for their brands.

The most effective qualitative agencies offer not only the most relevant insight techniques, but can deliver these findings in an incisive way to their clients. They also act in a consultancy focused role to implement the key material that the research can provide.

In this fast paced environment, agencies also need to reduce the time between data collection and insight communication without losing the essence and relevance of their findings for the end user.

Researchers can affect the desired result for clients by implementing a multi-focused approach to their projects. Many agencies are facing significant challenges from the impact of Big Data which is providing a tidal wave of data from new online qualitative methods.

Qualitative researchers need to adopt a team approach to project fulfilment and work smarter by using quantitative specialists to analyse data and help lead researchers to pinpoint key themes. This growing amount of data needs rigorous testing to ensure it remains relevant and that nothing is lost in translation to deliver the essence of brand-boosting research.

Researchers must ask themselves if tried and tested old methods for analysing data are still effective for these modern data collection approaches, or do new and more refined techniques need to be developed? The challenge ever remains to create more innovative and sophisticated techniques for content and contextual analysis.

Traditional research methods will continue to exist as long as agencies are prepared to constantly assess if they still remain applicable and fit for purpose.

Consumers are more than just a series of data. There is still a place for qualitative research to deliver the deep insight behind consumer behaviour and the data harvest from quantitative analysis – to explore the meaning behind the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what.’

If qualitative research can remain adaptable, innovative and synchronise old and new methodologies to deliver both insight and added value, then it will not only survive but thrive.

Get in touch anytime for help identifying and recruiting the right talent to maximise your company’s success; or for help making the right next career move to maximise your potential.


Chinese New Year starts on 28th January, so why will this be a year of career opportunity for market researchers? On the face of it, the same weekly calls come in from the same recruiters about the same jobs in the same agencies. It’s all rather uninspired isn’t it?

We have 03 pieces of advice to help you achieve your career goals and enjoy a successful and enjoyable year of the Rooster…

Firstly, the agency world is at a fork in the road, you’ll need to choose your next career path wisely.

The (currently) larger agencies are strategically automating their delivery. Steering towards digital, away from the individual. The last agencies standing on this path will be the globally scaled players ‘too big not to use’.

The (currently) smaller agencies are innovating and adding strategic value to their delivery. Steering towards more consultancy oriented ‘answers’ vs ‘options’. This path is leading to profitable and engaging client relationships at Brand, CMO and Board level.

Secondly, it’s useful to consider the implications for your career.

An automated model will promote on the ability to lead and manage a large team. Technical skills will become less relevant as careers become more senior. With pyramid shaped senior management, going forwards, there may become a lack of seats at the top of agencies running this model.

A consulting model encourages technical excellence at senior level, as well as leadership and management capability. There are parallels with an architects private practice, where the lead architect still remains hands on with the project. We predict more varied and diverse senior roles emerging as this model develops.

Thirdly, don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Market researchers are well serviced by good quality recruiters that are informed and well connected. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in career planning, relative to your own technical, cultural and logistical requirements. That conversation may help unlock opportunities that are the making of your career.

Get in touch anytime for help maximising your potential by making the right next career move; or for help identifying and recruiting the right talent to maximise your company’s success:




Customer Understanding has never been more important. But are market research agencies the right people for the job? We predict 2017 will see more agencies from different marketing sectors with much more aggressive marketing DNA join the battle to become the client’s partner, advising on strategic customer understanding.

Research agencies have been slow to adapt to changing client needs. Clients are increasingly wanting to know the answer, not how to get there. I asked a senior director that joined a comms agency from a research agency the difference between the two. She answered in research, 80% focus was on the methodology and 20% on the result. Now in comms it’s turned on it’s head.

The key advantage research agencies hold is the provision of rigorous defensible methods. They give clients an objective case to argue internally. They are channel neutral, unlike many other marketing disciplines which are seen by clients as having an angle into an end game (be that TV campaign via production unit etc).

In the post-digital fragmented marketplace, clients have access to a lot of insight approaches, algorithms and apps, and are exposed to a lot of ‘we can do that’ pitches. Clients need help making sense of this. The question being asked by clients to their agencies is: What can you do for us that we can’t do for ourselves? That answer will help research agencies define 2017 and beyond.

I spoke to a planner about planning’s heady days of the early 1990s. It was a discipline fashioned from research, with added commercial bandwidth and bravery to make the call on what should be done as a result. It strikes me that since then, research agencies have become more nervous and planners have become more subjective.

Market research agencies with the ability to retain their methodological rigor and deliver braver impactful commercially grounded ‘answers’ will thrive in 2017. They will foster consultancy oriented board level client relationships that will be enjoyable and profitable. Those that stick to explaining the minutiae of methods and don’t come off the fence to add value will be commoditised and will probably not survive.

Get in touch anytime for help identifying and recruiting the right talent to maximise your company’s success; or for help making the right next career move to maximise your potential.