FEATURE18 December 2013

2013 Review: The biggest developments

In the first of five review articles, Research contributors tell us what they believe have been the biggest industry developments of the past 12 months.


Over 30 representatives from the research sector were asked what they felt had been the biggest developments, either technological or methodological, of the past 12 months. Here is a selection of their responses.

Research on the move

The migration of survey respondents from PCs to mobile devices – and the resultant facilitation of ‘in-the-moment’ insight capture – was the key development for many. There have been varying reports on the percentage of surveys now being completed on mobile phones and tablets (claims range from 10-40%), and the speed of this development caught some by surprise:

“The further expansion of mobile within the online research space has accelerated faster than expectations. This has been driven by the panellists migrating from PCs to tablets and smartphones as the communication device of choice. We now see over 30% of panellists registering through a non-PC device.” Martin Filz, GMI

Others reflected on the impact that this has had on the type of insight available to researchers:

“Mobile market research has profoundly impacted the industry in 2013 because it has added a contextual element that other research methodologies lack. Real-time interaction with the consumer at the point of purchase or consumption yields rich findings that might not be possible to ascertain from a consumer who is removed by time and space.” Lisa Wilding-Brown, uSamp

“Mobile ethnography. Taking the in-home product tests and elevating them through the use of mobile devices. It allowed businesses to get closer to the consumers by adding audio, video, and imagery to the data, all while increasing privacy and anonymity during product usage.” Melanie Courtwright, Research Now

“The credibility, application and value of mobile quantitative techniques had already been established by the start of the 2013, and it gained further traction and more widespread adoption by agencies and clients. But the real winner for us in 2013 has been the rapid rise of mobile qualitative approaches. Mobile self-ethnography is now a credible addition to the qualitative toolkit.” Graeme Lawrence, Join the Dots

Big data = big news

Another big development of 2013 has been big data (which, unsurprisingly, features strongly in our coming article on 2013’s biggest buzzwords, as well as the biggest disappointments). Our contributors talked about the good, the bad and the ugly of that most newsworthy of research-related topics from 2013:

“Big data has really come into its own this year, as businesses stopped focusing just on harvesting massive reams of information and started to analyse and apply it across their product cycles.” Lou Ellerton, The Value Engineers

“The Snowden leaks and the migration of social media users to ephemeral media (Snapchat etc.) are the first chinks in the anti-privacy argument. Bad news for those with a blind faith in infinite data.” Tom Ewing, Brainjuicer

I think it has to be two areas – big data and behavioural economics – both promising radical change to our industry.” Colin Strong, GfK

And finally…

Other mentions of the key developments of 2013 included: DIY research, employee communities and 3D printing. Tomorrow we will reveal our contributors’ thoughts on the biggest buzzwords of 2013.