The Engagement Crisis: there is a Light at the End of the Tunnel.

In the last 10 years or so, we have witnessed the growth of automation on data collection, analysis and reporting in the market research industry. We have also seen new technologies (VR, facial reading, mobile, etc.) and numerous technology start-ups entering the market research space. However, it seems little or no advance at all has been made in terms of using new technologies to improve respondent engagement with market research.

As we well know, the lack of engagement from consumers/respondents in market research has generated a growing crisis in the industry. It is not a secret that online panel companies have faced many challenges to attract and retain new participants. The decrease on response rates and the lack of mobile optimized surveys are also common problems well known in the industry. As per the latest GRIT (Greenbook’s Research Industry Trends), “The real existential threat to our industry is neither automation nor competing methodologies: it’s the future of research participation.”.

Also, as per GRIT, half of corporate researchers and market research firms think the quality of online sample will get worse in the coming years. Data collection or sample providers are more optimistic, and majority of them think quality will get better, improved by technology. Surprisingly, technology or lack thereof, is also the prime culprit for sample getting worse: from bots, to survey design, to mobile enabled surveys, all these are driving sample quality down.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for this engagement crisis in Market Research? Well, here at eCGlobal, technology is helping us to increase data quality and response rates, but not just because of automation or fraud detection. Social and mobile technologies are helping us to get closer to the consumers, providing engaging user experiences, giving them a greater purpose to participate in market research, and, at the same time, having access to new data sources available on their mobile devices, social networks, websites and apps.

At the end of the day, it’s not just about technology, but changing the traditional market research mindset where consumers (“respondents”) are treated just as resources that are used and discarded when project goals are achieved. We knew, since our inception, that we had to give people enjoyable and engaging user experiences. This led us to build a social media platform that replicates how people naturally give feedback on a website, share experiences with followers in platforms such as Twitter, or have fun playing with apps and games on their mobile devices.

As on Facebook, we’ve created tools to empower users and let them generate more spontaneous content, as well as connect with others with similar interests and profiles through online communities that we create or they can create by themselves. Instead of traditional online forums, we have given them a news feed that is personalized, based on their preferences and data they input into the platform. We’ve also turned into the games, and have integrated gamification elements and dynamics into the platform, bringing the fun element as part of the general user experience. This combination of social, fun and greater purpose of helping others to make better decisions has hugely increased the amount of user-generated content, conversations between community members and superior data quality.

Despite the engagement crisis and current market issues, I have to agree with GRIT analysts and see a reason to be hopeful. I also believe the poor user experiences with market research are starting to contrast against the unique and engaging experiences created by innovators who’ve been unafraid to embrace change and drive innovation in the industry.

How about you? Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel for the engagement crisis in Market Research?

This article has been priginally published at Greenbook’s blog: http://www.greenbookblog.org/2016/08/02/the-engagement-crisis-there-is-a-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel/