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Online quantitative surveys continue to be the bread-and-butter of the research industry, according to the latest Greenbook Industry Trends (GRIT) report. And while some emerging methods – such as online communities and mobile-first surveys – can’t really be deemed “emerging” any longer, a closer look at the data indicates that adoption of nonconscious measurement methods are also reaching the mainstream.

The report identified 21 emerging research methods, and then highlighted 5 nonconscious methods either in use or under consideration.

Tallying up those 5 methods resulted in the finding that a majority (53%) of the research industry is putting at least one to use, with another 27% having at least one under consideration. As such, 8 in 10 research buyers and suppliers express an interest in at least one of the identified nonconscious measures.

The analysts caution that “it is important to remember that the GRIT sample is not a representative sample of the market research population. The GRIT sample tends to be drawn from those more engaged with the future of research, so the ‘in use’ figures will tend to be higher than for the wider MR population.”

Nonetheless, the report’s author reminds that “considering that the neuromarketing sub-industry is only about 10+ years old, this is a massive change in the thinking and acceptance among researchers and marketers alike.”

The results show that at least 1 in 5 respondents report using eye tracking (34%), behavioral economics models (29%), applied neuroscience (21%) and facial analysis (20%). For the time being, there’s been less adoption of biometric response (12%) measures, although one-third have at least an interest in this type of measurement.

Of the 5 measures listed, applied neuroscience has shown the most consistent growth in usage over the past few years.

A Shift Away From Asking Questions?

Researchers are also turning to other methods that don’t rely on asking participants questions. For example, more than 4 in 10 (43%) are using social media analytics, and close to as many report the use of big data analytics (38%).

What’s interesting about those is that they appear to have strong appeal with buyers. In fact, while in the large majority of cases suppliers are offering methods to a greater extent than buyers are using them, that’s not the case for those analytics methods.

To wit, 6 in 10 research buyers report using social media analytics (compared to 38% of suppliers), while half are using big data analytics (compared to 35% of suppliers). This suggests that research buyers might be sourcing these insights from non-marketing research suppliers. (Crimson Hexagon is the most-mentioned tool by research clients for analyzing social media data.)

Back in 2015, a GfK study found strong enthusiasm relating to the future role of passively collected data, which respondents at the time believed would be as important as custom surveys by now.

Research Skews to Quant Over Qual

In estimating their use of quantitative and qualitative approaches to market research, respondents demonstrated that they lean more heavily to the former (59% of techniques used) over the latter (35%).

Among quantitative methods used in projects, online surveys are easily the dominant type, representing 56% of technique usage.

There’s a more even mix among qualitative methods used, with in-person focus groups (26% of techniques used) leading the way, followed by in-person in-depth interviews (15%).

Researchers Spend the Most Time on What They’re Worst At

In a somewhat worrying development, research suppliers appear to be failing at the activities in which they spend the most time.

Survey results show that the most common functions undertaken in a workweek by researchers and insight professionals are conference calls or meetings related to planning research studies (85%) and analyzing, interpreting, charting and/or reporting data (84%).

The latter of those – interpreting, charting and/or reporting data – occupies the greatest share of researchers’ weekly time, at an average of 17%.

Unfortunately, these seem to be the areas in which buyers are least satisfied with suppliers. Out of a list of 14 supplier attributes, buyers said they were least satisfied with data visualization, as fewer than one-quarter reported being very or completely satisfied.

Moreover, buyers expressed low levels of satisfaction with the reporting of research results (38%) and recommendations of business actions based on the research (27%).

By comparison, far more are satisfied with how suppliers are conducting research (71%) and implementing research plans (67%).

Little wonder, then, that a previous edition of the GRIT report has found data visualization to be the most in-demand market research role.

About the Data: The GRIT report data is based on 1,533 completed interviews with insights buyers/clients (22% share) and insights providers/suppliers (78%). Respondents hailed from various industries and company sizes, with the North America and Europe regions most heavily represented.

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