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The evolution of market research

Exhibitor:  Toluna
21 February 2013

In recent years we have seen consumers beginning to engage with real-time market research via social network and content sharing sites. At the touch of a screen, or press of a button, marketers and consumers can access a huge amount of relevant data. People are now more willing than ever to contribute their opinions, and share information with the companies targeting them, especially if there is an incentive or social reward involved.

How does the future look?
As survey technology continues to advance, we at Toluna can see it connecting consumers in real-time to relevant research data, via smartphones and tablets, to help them make informed purchasing decisions. As market research becomes more sophisticated, the data provided will become increasingly personalised, enabling brands to get deeper and more actionable insights.

How will this work in practice?
Take buying jeans for example. Rather than relying on the singular and potentially biased view of a salesperson for feedback in-store, on a particular pair, consumers would be able to use their smartphone or tablet to snap a photo and poll friends and peers. They could also access a pool of relevant data on that pair of jeans, as well as other models that had previously been purchased. Moreover, by submitting their own views about a specific product, they might then receive a reward from that brand, further enhancing the quality of the “collective memory bank” being generated.

What are the benefits?
Future research technology could be a win-win resource for everyone involved.

The benefits for the consumer are two-fold. First, their purchasing decision is informed with the help of friends and peers, and second, in return for sharing information, they receive a financial reward or other relevant incentive.

At the same time, brands can choose to collect the opinions and purchasing data, with customer consent, and record the information as part of a larger research database for use when making branding and marketing decisions in the future.

What does this mean for marketers?
Online interaction such as Facebook ‘likes’, blogs, online reviews, community platforms and participation in consumer polls demonstrate that consumers are already willing to participate in this type of research. As technology develops, the ability to survey a wide variety of people and instantly recall the data in real time will become a reality.

If pioneers of this technology can make sure that interfaces are user-friendly, engaging, accessible and work effectively to incentivise the consumer, then there is no reason why marketers can’t use this platform to build successful campaigns in the future.

This advance in technology will signal a major sea-change in the marketing and research sectors, and at Toluna, we believe this type of interaction between companies and individuals is right around the corner. When brands embrace these new approaches, they will have the resources at their fingertips to maintain a competitive advantage in an increasingly consumer-driven world.

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