The Role Technology Plays in the Evolution of Market Research

Cutting-edge, integrated technology is allowing us to extract more insights than ever before, helping to drive innovation and growth. Video tools in particular have become increasingly popular as a means for enacting research automation.

Given recent events, technologies used to help businesses work remotely are dominating the market. Zoom, for example, has seen its number of daily users grow by 50% from March to April, according to CNBC. Insights professionals within brands and agencies alike are looking for tools that enable them to conduct research virtually, particularly video tools that can help them capture and manage their consumer insight video assets in one place and extract insightful data from the video more quickly and easily. 

Capturing video in research is nothing new. The ability to review responses for additional analysis or to timestamp insights that are particularly pertinent has always proven to be a useful practice. 

But there’s much more communicative information embedded in consumer insight videos than we’ve ever traditionally extracted. Only now do we have the technology available to quantify and extricate meaningful insights within videos. 

Brands and agencies shouldn’t stop there, though. They should also be looking for technologies that go a step further and leverage speech-to-text to index what consumers are saying, and emotion analysis to understand consumer attitudes and sentiment.  

The Video Environment

Video has been further adopted among consumers as a result of the shelter-in-place orders of the COVID-19 pandemic. The power and value of video technology have since been multiplied many times over. 

Prior to the pandemic, social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok had already started popularizing the usage of video to record our daily lives. But current events have brought video capture methods further into the mainstream. According to SensorTower, TikTok generated a record of 113 Million downloads in February 2020 alone! 

Video calling is now one of our only methods of communicating with anyone outside of our household. In turn, consumer audiences have become even more comfortable with video as a medium and its use in all settings. Research studies are no exception.  

Concurrently, social media has brought consumers and brands closer together and fostered a culture of two-way dialogue in place of the one-way broadcasting of marketing messages. As such, consumers are now far more open to the idea of engaging with brands and providing feedback virtually. 

In short, brands are now perfectly positioned to carry out quality market research efficiently, cost-effectively, and at scale. 

The Changing Role of Research 

Billions of dollars have been spent by researchers over the years in an effort to uncover what the customer wants, the demand within markets, the perceptions of businesses and their competition, and so on. Focus groups, ethnography, surveys, and in-depth interviews are the methods by which this research has traditionally been carried out, many of them requiring travel and face-to-face interaction.  

Over the past few years, and particularly in the last few months, however, we’ve seen the evolution of data collection evolve into more comprehensive insight programs. Single-perspective techniques are no longer enough. Instead, businesses are now looking for tools that provide them with a holistic, 360-degree view of their customers’ experiences and opinions. 

Though researchers are still relying on tried and true research methods, they’ve recently had to make the shift, like the rest of the world, to remote work. For some, virtual research is business as usual. For others, it provides a real challenge. But with the right tools in place, insights professionals will find that conducting projects virtually is a quicker and much easier way of conducting research in greater volumes. In addition, the automation of certain manual processes enables them to thoroughly mine and analyze the data collected in significantly less time. 

On the one hand, evolution has been driven by the development and proliferation of social and digital technologies. Both have given a home to the various ways of conducting research and made it easier to manage and store data in greater volumes and with more sophistication. On the other, it is being pulled forward by organizations that are hungry to do more with insights and are looking to uncover impactful customer stories that can inform the way they do business. 

The Role of Video

Traditionally, the value of video has been to document market research so that its findings can be revisited, or so that new findings can be drawn out through further analysis by the researcher. Documentation is still extremely important, but the new value of video technology lies in its sophisticated digital analysis techniques and the automation of insight discovery. 

Traditionally, qualitative and quantitative data has lacked any form of integration. In fact, just last year, an AdAge survey reported that 51% of marketing and insight professionals have a desire for improved integration between the two. 

Adding video to your research program enables you to extract six times more data than you’d get from open-ended text responses. With the right tools, everything in a video—from spoken word to sentiment, emotion, objects, and activity— can be analyzed. The right tools also make it possible to review transcribed material in sync with original video content, and easily uncover the key themes discussed. 

Meanwhile, the application of emotion and sentiment analysis allows organizations to understand how participants feel about specific topics and to quantify the video data in order to draw broader conclusions. 

Integrated Solutions 

Video intelligence platforms like Medallia LivingLens can aid in conducting virtual research projects. Video content can be captured and organized into channels for easy access to both current and historical project data. Filters and tagging functionality enable you to organize your content, making it fully searchable. Powerful AI and machine learning can also help uncover meaningful trends in your video data. 

What’s more, the most meaningful stories and trends identified can be easily packaged into showreels to bring the desires and needs of the customer to life for key stakeholders. A TechSmith study found that 67% of people understand information better when it is communicated visually.  

Not only is there a desire for more visual content, but using it in workplace communications actually increases engagement and productivity, TechSmith reports. This means that not only does a visual medium like video help stakeholders better understand the insights, it will also leave a lasting impact and inspire action to make real changes. 

The Future of Research

COVID-19 has made virtual research the ‘new normal’. Businesses that were not already conducting research online have been forced to do so and, realizing the benefits, many of them will continue to in part, if not entirely. 

As the pandemic has established new ways of engaging online, like townhall-style events, team meetings, and happy hours, so too has online research become the accepted standard. This digital transformation is largely made possible by video technology and the use of more integrated solutions. 

There will still be a place for real-world research, of course, and traditional market research techniques like focus groups and in-depth interviews remain as important as they ever were, but the pandemic has shown that taking these traditionally in-person research methods online is more efficient and is just as, if not more, valuable. 

The extraordinary set of circumstances we find ourselves in also means that consumer attitudes toward brands will shift – perhaps in the short-term, perhaps forever. Different brands will be affected to different extents by factors outside their control, but all have at least some measure of control via the actions they take and how intently they listen. 

These changes are happening now. Brands must recognize this and use the tools available to research and understand the changes that are happening or risk losing ground to their competitors.