8 Things I Learned from Market Research in 2017

By Keith Phillips, Senior Methodologist

Every year seems to go by more quickly than the previous one and 2017 was no exception. Quite the interesting year we had, both in the world and in market research.  I took a moment to reflect on some of the things I learned this year from our great industry:

1. Generation Z likes to save money. If you received $1,000 next week, what would you do with the money? Earlier this year, we asked some of our SSI panelists the same question. We were surprised to find that 41% of Generation Z (18 to 21-year-olds in our survey) wanted to save all or part of that money. To put that in perspective, 37% of Millennials, 35% of Generation Xers, and 45% of Baby Boomers told us they were going to save.

2. Major tech firms are investing heavily in Virtual Reality. I recently wrote a blog post about VR, how it could be used for market research and how market research can help VR find its audience. While doing some background research for this post, I found that many leading tech companies have some sort of stake in VR technologies. Google Daydream, Facebook’s Oculus, and Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality are all examples. Do these companies feel that the market is about to become mainstream, or do they want to make sure they are at the forefront should it? Perhaps a little of both.

3. There are some people who have a knack for putting together PowerPoint presentations (and they are not market researchers). As someone who has created and given many PowerPoint presentations and sat through many at conferences, I can tell you that market researchers do not have the knack for PowerPoint designs that graphic designers do.  Well, duh! There are many outlets you can use today to recruit freelance employees for this type of work.  Let me tell you, it doesn’t just save you time. They can do a lot better job than you can.

4. Mobile questionnaires still have a long way to go, but it feels like researchers now know they must go to mobile. The proportion of mobile-friendly surveys that we see is now over 50% of all surveys, which is an improvement over the 40% we were seeing a couple of years ago. However, it’s still too low given we are a decade past the advent of the smartphone (how many times are we going to say mobile is here?). At the current rate of adoption, it would take decades longer for all surveys to become smartphone-friendly. However, I have noticed a trend: we have been getting lots of questions around mobile this year. People have a particular interest in making their questionnaires mobile-friendly. Perhaps we will see an improvement in adoption rate in the near future. It’s really important for questionnaires that have not made this leap to do so sooner rather than later.  For those interested, check out some of our tips in our knowledge center.

5. Carousel grids produce similar results to a traditional grid. No, those traditional grid questions will not work on a smartphone. Instead, we can ask questions as a carousel, showing one attribute at a time and then rotating to the next one automatically as an answer is given. Concerned about consistency?  Side-by-side testing showed variation within the expected range, provided this type of change doesn’t change the meaning of the question.  Find out more about the difference between traditional grids and carousel grids here.

6. Mobile app based advertising is important. Including mobile isn’t just about feasibility, it’s also about reaching the “mostly” mobile audience. The interesting thing about this audience is that they are hard to recruit through browser-based advertisements. Employing a mobile app-based advertising strategy is necessary when building a mobile panel and/or trying to reach the mobile audience.

7. Self-reported data can be more accurate than other types of “big data.” “Big data” is being collected and used in different ways.  Although there is a small but growing demand in the industry to use existing data for “accuracy” over self-reported data, the “big data” is not always 100% accurate. Cookie-based data may project someone as a “dog owner,”because of the websites they visited, but people who own a dog are not necessarily visiting those websites. There is a degree of inaccuracy with this type of projection. Depending on the type of data you are utilizing, it is likely more accurate to just ask the person a question.

8. Appending data comes with legal hurdles. In order to match up existing information to someone’s answers in a survey, there has to be an exchange of personally identifiable information (PII) somewhere along the line. This means a number of steps need to take place involving someone from the legal department, all in an effort to get the proper permissions granted and protect PII.

Check out the SSI blog for more posts from Keith Phillips and other members of the knowledge team.