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The 5 Hottest Market Research Trends to Follow

Every year, new consumer insight trends emerge in marketing research. What worked a couple of years ago in your marketing strategy might not work for you this year. That’s why researchers should always be updated and aware of the changes occurring in order to keep up and adapt to emerging consumer insight trends. From the rise of agile research, the new insights frontier in product and marketing, to the rapid development of AI and machine learning technologies – all these trends must be taken into consideration; not just to adapt, but also to compete and be ahead of your competitors.

Listed below are the hottest User Experience & Market Research Trends you must follow…

1 – Qualitative is the new Quantitative

For the last decade, we’ve seen Focus Groups decline. Why? They are hard, don’t scale, time-consuming, and expensive.

decline in focusgroups 2018 esomar

Not news exactly, as Ray Poynter has been saying this for a few years now, but quantitative research is poised to outpace the growth happening in surveys. Why? One reason is that the rise of User Experience has lifted one-on-one interviews to a new level.

It used to be the case that market researchers were gatekeepers. Now, we are consumer insight enablers.

The ground of high impact and complex work will continue to be the prevue of market research pros. But we don’t need to conduct those 5 one-on-one chats to get feedback on a marketing piece. Instead, we should give outer internal constituents the tools that enable them to self-serve.

2 – AI & NLP for Smarter Research

There are a ton of use cases for Artificial Intelligence. For all of them, there has been just as much concern about AI taking jobs or reinforcing negative social behavior like prejudice. We have seen some AI-based solutions, but not at scale…but they are coming. Let’s break this down…Q1. What is research?
A1. A conversation at scale.

Q2. Why do we do surveys vs. talk to people?
A2. It is impossible to meaningfully process responses at scale for a dynamic conversation.

Q3. What happens if you ask your last romantic date, “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend me to a friend or family member?”
A3. Nothing good.

In the end, technologies like AI and Natural Language Processing are not replacing us. Instead, they are partnering with us, enabling us to focus less on the grunt work and more on the higher-level issues.

3 – The New Respondent aka Email is dead…ish.

In my recent conversation with Rogier Verhulst, head of insights with LinkedIn, we were talking about declining response rates to email solicitation.

“We continue to see lower email open rates. There are even some groups within companies that use Slack, WhatsApp, etc. to communicate and simply don’t check email at all. We’ve got to employ different modes of communicating if research is going to be representative.”

To further illustrate the point, Statica shows that there is nearly the same number of people on social media as there are on messaging apps. People are communicating…just less and less via email. 

Let’s face it, we’ve been spoiled over the past 20 years by focusing our marketing and recruiting through email. This trend feels a lot like my early days in market research where I had to ask, “Where are these people and how am I going to get to them?”

4 – The Rise of Privacy Concern

If you are in the consumer data space you must start and end with security. On April 14, 2016, the cost of doing business went up as the EU passed General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Why? According to the wiki, “The GDPR aims primarily to give control to individuals over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU.” California was a fast follower so now, if you do business in either of these markets, you must be compliant.

For big companies, this hasn’t been a huge hurdle. However, for the sub $5 million dollar firms, compliance is a heavy…but necessary…burden. I predict you’ll see a lot of small companies align their best practices or go out of business.

5 – Insights Instrumentation

With the growth in consumer centricity, companies will need to address the natural silo that exists for all projects. Several years ago, a CMO of one of the largest financial institutes globally hired a group of us to help them streamline their data handling processes. During the audit phase, we discovered there were 13 distinct NPS projects being run concurrently. Obviously, this was costing money and time, but the really scary part was that the implications across these studies didn’t align. This created confusion and distrust.

Many tools that exist, including KnowledgeHound and mTab, have approached this problem from different directions. Being a customer-centric company requires gauges.

6 – Bonus! Insights Distribution

Let’s be honest, data dashboards are important but most of the organization isn’t going to access or use them. So how can you help support insights as a core value? In a word:


I was talking with someone at TD Ameritrade about how they distribute results, when she mentioned her CEO loves podcasts and consumes them daily during his 45-minute run.

Me: “Do you think he’d listen to a podcast about his market, company, employees, and customers?”

Her: “Damn straight!” (I may have paraphrased here).

This is a HUGE market opportunity. Perhaps not in terms of revenue, but certainly in terms of value add to existing customers.


You can hear full interviews with today’s top CEO’s and Heads of Insights at As always, I hope you found this content useful and wish you only the best.

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