Four trends in research design

Four trends in research design

Marketing research used to have a single focus on rational thinking by capturing consumers’ thoughts and beliefs, focalizing on ‘think’ activities. However, this is not enough. Understanding human behavior is complex, and it’s rather by adding ‘feel’, ‘do’ and ‘make’ activities to the mix that we can get a 360° view of the consumer.

Read on for 4 trends in research design and how to engineer research activities for impact.

#1 Closer to the moment of truth

In-context activities will allow us to gain insights to improve in-market performance. At InSites Consulting, for example, we are looking at technologies like geofencing, NFC or even sound capturing to drive in-the-moment research. Integration of activities with other data ecosystems like CRM databases or social media data will become the new norm. This will move research to the here and now.


#2 Always-on and in-sync

In this VUCA world (i.e. Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous), brands need to remain ‘in sync’ with the changing consumer reality. Having a group of consumers help companies to be their eyes and ears will be crucial. This will drive the need for activities which lower barriers for consumers to self-report, either by adapting research activities to run on natural channels like WeChat or Instagram, or by new make’ activities that facilitate consumer-insight spotting.


#3 Need for speed

The speed of activity execution has become a hygiene factor. Whereas the numeric nature of quant research allows for automation, I think the big transformation will happen in qualitative research, where we will aim for deep yet scalable insight generation. Machine learning will drive this evolution through bot-human moderation and smarter insight detection.


#4 Consumer Connect initiatives

Finally, it takes two to tango, especially when wanting to become truly consumer-centric. I believe we should develop a new type of activity that stimulates internal stakeholders in digesting, experiencing and acting upon insights, bringing consumers and internal stakeholders together. Today, we are already conducting video call sessions aimed at evoking consumer empathy (i.e. consumer connects). But moving forward, I’m convinced we should engage internal stakeholders in activities with augmented or virtual reality to truly bring consumer stories to life.


“Insights should be one of the most critical business functions, we must re-invent it”, dixit Indra Nooyi, former PepsiCo Chairman and CEO. The need to put insights at the heart of all marketing decisions is core in driving company growth. Steered by this need to show a ‘return on insights’, I expect that research activities will be engineered increasingly for impact.

For more on the impact of using different research activities, download our free bookzine ‘The power is in the mix’.

The Power is in the Mix

The power is in the mix

Human behavior is a complex interplay between actions, cognition and emotions. In this bookzine, we showcase how to choose the right blend of ‘think’, ‘feel’, ‘do’ and ‘make’ research activities for the right business challenge.

Request your download

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