Take me to the river

From one research to the other, that is still the main reality in market research. We find a problem or an opportunity, search for the best method and execute. We increasingly realise that this model no longer brings the same results. The pressure on effectiveness and speed of execution increases, most certainly in times of economic crisis. ‘Connecting the dots’ is more than ever important to reach innovating and relevant insights.
Whereas the ratio between ad hoc research and continuous research is currently 80/20, many expect this ratio to be inversed soon. Kim Dedeker, current chairman of the Kantar Group ‘The Americas’ and previously head of research at P&G, introduced the term “The River” to explain that we will in the future fish for information in a river which is providing us with a constant supply of information.

From shortage to abundance

At some point there as a shortage of date, but these days researchers dispose of a tsunami of data with a continuous character: transactional data obtained from scanning, web browsing, using mobile apps; observational data gathered from online conversations, pictures and videos publicly available on social networks, blogs, forums; data based on constant questioning both quantitatively via tracking and qualitatively via closed and moderated research communities. As a consequence market research will shift from project-driven to process-driven, and we will first fish in the river of continuous and organic knowledge before deciding whether we need to organise an ad hoc survey.

Building your river

The organisations in the future will dispose of all knowledge before asking a management question. That all sounds very good, but what does it take?

  1. Building continuous connections with consumers Open or closed communities allow having a dialogue with consumers on a daily basis, preferably as much as possible in the natural surroundings of these consumers, so that it does not even feel like research to them. That is how we recently integrated a research community in the Facebook fan page of ‘The Voice of Holland’ for RTL Netherlands.
  2. Recycling Certain ad hoc surveys can prove their value during a longer period by being recyclable. All too often we assume that surveys can only deliver value once. An example is the database we developed for Heinz with pictures of ways in which consumers use ketchup and other cold sauces: this information stays accessible and gives continuous value.
  3. Listening more and asking less questions These days there is so much ‘user generated content’ on the Internet that we have to sharpen our listening skills and need to develop new skills in that area. The importance of text analysis and language understanding will gain in importance.

The researcher of the future needs to be a good navigator in a complex system of rivers which contain all types of knowledge. I’m curious to see how quickly we’ll evolve from 80/20 to 20/80! If you want to find out more on our recent research communities. Visit insites-consulting.test/researchcommunities for an overview of recent client cases.

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