As researchers, we love learning about the world around us. What people are doing, why they are doing it, what challenges they have, how they’d change things if they could.
Our interest in the world around us is just as keen when we consider our world – what are other researchers doing? Are they doing the same thing as us? Do they have the same frustrations and challenges? At FocusVision, we wonder all these things too, and so we asked you about your research world.
As you may expect, many of the results from our second annual ‘How you research’ survey remained the same. Traditional methods (surveys, in-depth interviews, and focus groups) remain the most common approaches, while Customer Experience and Brand Strategy / Positioning remain the top research areas. However, there were a couple of findings that caught my attention: a decline in the use of in-person focus groups and the continuing ‘better, faster, cheaper’ drive.
The death of in-person focus groups?
I’ll be upfront; I’m being provocative with that sub-header. For one, nearly two-thirds of you are still using in-person groups and secondly, it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions from a one-year 8% decline. That said, it did catch my attention. Particularly when digging into the data and seeing the decline is being driven by large enterprises, who report using in-person groups 14% less than last year. Additionally, while in-person in-depth interviews remained steady overall, there was a bigger – 16% – dip within large enterprises.
What’s going on? Well, I’d love to hear from enterprise researchers about your experiences. I suspect it is linked to the second area that caught my attention: the ever-loud ‘better, faster, cheaper’ drum. In-person research is fantastic, but it is resource-intensive on time and budget. I don’t believe these approaches will fade from use by any means. At the same time, I think it is safe to say focus groups won’t return to the heady heights of their hay-day.
Speed to (inexpensive) insight
In-line with last year’s results, budget constraints top the frustration charts. However, there is an 8% year-on-year increase in those of you reporting budget challenges. Again, large enterprises are driving this change with a steep 20% rise within this group. What’s interesting is that these researchers aren’t just concerned about budget but are keenly looking to technology to help alleviate the pressures. We also see growth in frustrations with the challenges around integrating multiple data sources, managing various technology providers and hard to use research tools.
The shifts in business and their data needs, together with the corresponding rapid technological development, has led to a protracted time of change within the insights industry. We are still grappling managing the transition, evolving technology, and increasing demand for high-profile consumer insights to lead business decisions. What’s important is that we continue to evolve, use the most fit-for purpose approaches for that business question and the associated business need. At the same time, we should continue to demand more from our technology, because that’s a large part of what’s going to get us there.
And so, when we rerun this study next year, I hope we’ll see positive shifts in how you are feeling about working with your technology providers, and the ability of technology to meet your research needs. Because that’s what we are striving for here at FocusVision.