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The only thing that stays the same is change

A few days ago, The Future of Insight blog asked if market researchers were looking at “The end of the world as we know it?”  In the post, Bob Moran makes the point that significant shifts in the industry amount to a step-change in the practice of market research.  He goes on to make some predictions about what the future of market research looks like.

Specifically, Bob mentions a shift from surveys to game-like simulations and much more use of emerging technologies like eye-tracking as two big changes in the market research industry.

I agree with much of what Bob says.

Every industry is constantly changing, but that change is usually evolutionary.  Every so often, a quantum leap shakes up an industry.  The last time we witnessed a quantum leap in the research business was the adoption of online data collection about 10 years ago. It feels like we’re on the verge of another leap today driven by huge changes in the way people interact online.

Seth Godin had an excellent post a while back on this topic.  He makes the point that any shift in a market will shuffle the deck in terms of the important players. We saw many call centers fall on hard times as online surveys started to replace phone surveys as the “default” mode of data collection.  We’ll see it again as advances in technology make observational research approaches more accessible and cost-efficient.

The people and companies who will thrive in market research are the ones who can adapt and who are good at helping their clients make sense of the marketplace. The people and companies who might be in trouble are those whose success is tied to a particular method or form of data collection.

We can be certain of two things:

First, many of the companies who are “leaders” today won’t be in 10 years and many of the companies that will be at the top of the industry 10 years from now are unknowns (if they even exist) today.

Second, the one thing that will always be in demand is the ability to create insight for clients by helping them understand market dynamics.  Maybe this will be called market research, maybe it will be called something else.  Whatever label is applied, it will be a good living for the people who can do it.

About the Author

Ed Erickson is the President of Erickson Research, a Chicago market research consulting firm. You can find Ed on LinkedIn and .

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