A Look Back at Market Research in 2016

A Picture of Zoe Dowling

This has been quite a year in market research for FocusVision and me. Now that we are approaching the close of 2016, I want to take a moment and reflect on some of the stand-out trends and hottest topics from this year’s conferences, articles and news reels. Three areas in particular caught my attention.

Let’s Hear it for the Millennials: A Generation Finds its Voice

We hear a lot about Millennials, telling us who they are, what they are about and what they want. The most refreshing thing about 2016 is that this group is finding their own voice with more young researchers appearing at the conference podium and in the industry news.

ESOMAR Congress in September shined a spotlight on our young researchers, dedicating a full session to their research as well as the opportunity for eight young researchers to pitch their ideas to the audience. The closing keynote was made by the particularly inspiring 20-year old Jennifer Duong, Director of Virtual Reality at 1215creative, who provided an insightful – and at times provocative – view on the future. The quality of her presentation (and many of the other millennials presenting at the conferences over the year) is to be commended. Given the presence of these young people, I’m sure I wasn’t the only ‘older’ researcher wondering whether I should start packing my bags now…

Less Hype, More Down to Business

Perhaps it’s just a reflection of the sessions that I attended and news that I’ve been reading, but I’ve been struck by the emphasis on addressing methodological questions rather than the proverbial ‘shiny new toy that’s going to change our world.’ Is this a signal of a welcome maturation of the discussion around the changes within our industry?

Speaking of methodological considerations, the 2016 presidential election and Brexit polling misses gave pause for reflection and debate within the industry (not least by me, my colleagues Steve August and Ryan Baum together with Nikki Lavoie of MindSpark Research International, posted The Aftermath of the 2016 Presidential Election: Where Polls Went Wrong). Returning to the basics would serve us well, while also considering alternative approaches to measuring public opinion.

There are always going to be innovations that capture our attention but we shouldn’t be unduly distracted by them. Take for example mobile research – we’ve not fully ironed out all the methodological considerations nor is mobile-first design standard within the industry. Let’s hope we get this right before we tumble down the virtual reality rabbit hole.

Visual Delights: Storytelling Matters in Market Research

Storytelling and data visualization within the insights industry has become a hot topic, and one that is readily justified. The most insightful findings won’t be acted upon if they are lost within a 200-slide data deluge. On this front, the conversation is shifting toward how we can effectively synthesize insights into ‘snackable bits’ and present them in a visually compelling manner. A sweet spot of this feels to be the marriage of researcher storytelling skills and technological platforms to assist with the output.

Speaking of visual delights, it feels as though we are also taking our own advice.  I’ve been impressed by the high level of market research conference presentations I’ve seen over the course of the year, with the visual portion of the presentations truly raising the bar. Long may this continue!

I’m curious to see what 2017 will bring. In the meantime, seasons greetings to you and yours!

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