How Do Market Researchers Spend Their Time?

February 19, 2021

GRIT How Market Researchers Spend Their Time Feb2021Just 18% of market researchers’ time is spent on activities not related to research, according to a new GRIT report [download page]. In its latest Insights Practice edition, the GRIT Report breaks down how market researchers spend their time, as well as the state of insights departments and tech spend in relation to research.

According to the survey, about half (48%) of market researchers’ time is spent explicitly conducting research – this includes designing (14%) and managing the execution of research (17%), as well as analyzing, interpreting, charting and/or reporting research results (17%).

Of note, a study from a few years predicted that some of these research tasks would be performed by AI in the next 5-10 years.

A further 23% of researchers’ time is taken up in what the report labels “communication and implementation”, including presenting research results to key stakeholders (10%) and consulting on implications or forward planning based on research (13%). More than one-quarter (29%) of their time is spent on other activities related (11%) and not related (18%) to research.

Insights Departments

Insights initiatives have a broad impact on businesses. Indeed, when insights buyers were asked to cite the business issues most directly affected by their company’s insights work (selecting up to 3), advertising and media showed up as most directly impacted (32%), followed by brand positioning (29%), product or service development – early stage (28%), and customer satisfaction or loyalty (24%).

As for the areas led by the insights department, it most often – by some margin – takes a leading role in consumer market insights (70%). After this, advertising research (41%), shopper research (35%) and customer experience (31%) are other areas where it sometimes takes a leading role.

Technology Investments

The report notes the importance of technology investment in furthering the insights function, taking a look at changes in technology spend in “GRIT waves” (with W1 representing data from Q1 and Q2 of that year and W2 representing data from Q3 and Q4).

According to the data going back to 2017 W2, the percentage of buyers increasing their investment in technology has fallen to a low in this latest data: during the 2020 W2 wave, only 41% of buyers reported increasing their tech spend, down from 53% in 2020 W1. Not only that, but the 2020 W2 is the first wave in a few years in which the percentage of companies decreasing their tech spend has exceeded 10%, reaching 15% in these latest figures.

On the supplier side a similar picture emerges. With the share of suppliers increasing their tech spend as high as 71% in 2020 W1, this has decreased to a low of 43% in 2020 W2, while the share that has decreased its tech spend is up to 20% in 2020 W2, from just 3% in 2020 W1.

On both the buyer and supplier side, analytics emerged as the top priority for tech spending in 2020 W2 (cited by 56% of both groups). Again regarding both buyer and supplier, data collection techniques was the next biggest priority (42% and 54% respectively).

Read the full report here.

About the Data: Based on a Q4 2020 survey of 531 insights professionals.


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