FEATURE3 January 2020

Preview of the decade: What will market research look like in 2030?

AI Data analytics Features Privacy Technology Trends

Ten years from now, will market research have taken a seat at the top table? Will it even be known as research? We asked a cross-section of the industry to predict what the discipline will look like in a decade’s time.

Jane Bloomfield, chief growth officer UK, Kantar
Who knows! But it would be great to see market research finally being liberated by this perfect storm of evolving technology, process and culture. With increased legislation and regulation around personal data, combined with an increase in awareness and sensitivity from consumers about how their data is being used by the companies they interact with, behaviour will start to change. This isn’t a threat for market research, but instead will make it more valuable – with insights specialists being the right hand of the board, with budgets and responsibilities reflective of its real contribution as a company’s intelligence capital.  

Anna Cliffe, joint managing director, Trinity McQueen
I’m not sure good insight will look any different in 10 years, but those creating and delivering it will be different, I hope. There’s great work being done to promote diversity. We forecast greater regional and class diversity as the industry de-centralises from its Greater London core.

Peter Totman, head of qualitative, Jigsaw
Hopefully more like it did in 1990 than it does in 2019. 

Stephan Shakespeare, co-founder and chief executive, YouGov
It will become increasingly connected – allowing us to paint a much fuller and more nuanced picture of how consumers think and act. Alongside this, it will be much more owned and directed by the respondents, as they feel the benefits of their data for themselves. The best research companies will behave as partners not just to clients but to the public. 

Babita Earle, executive vice-president, strategic and industry partnerships, ZappiStore
I hope tech will have made market research more accessible to a larger business audience and smarter ways of reaching niche audiences. Client teams will become more self-serve, adopting intelligence platforms that speak to each other and making more use of existing data to answer and predict business questions. There will be a democratisation of the industry beyond insight teams. Big survey-based studies will be rare – we will see short sharp iterative testing supported by machine learning on existing sources and high end consultation.

Nick Baker, UK chief executive, Savanta
It won’t be called market research (I hope)…

Crawford Hollingworth, co-founder, The Behavioural Architects
We'll finally have dropped the ‘market’ in ‘market research’ as hyper-personalisation makes the concept of markets less relevant (though not obsolete). AI will not have taken our jobs, but instead made research and insight quicker and easier with fewer repetitive roles. It will also give us an ability to analyse and find unique trends in big data. There will still be a need for the human ‘eye’ though, to ‘translate’ the cultural nuances of what people say and what they actually mean.

Ray Poynter, chief executive, The Future Place
By 2030, market research will be more of a skillset and less of an industry.

Deborah Mattinson, founding partner, BritainThinks
I hope that market research will finally take its seat at the top table, recognised for the insight it brings.

Jane Rudling, managing director, Walnut Unlimited
We’ll see a much greater degree of automation, leaving time for deeper thought and a more consultative approach. Delivering new insights with data science, behavioural science and market research will be even more crucial, as well as consultancy to bring this together to understand the full picture of customers’ buying motivations, bringing together the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of customer behaviour to create clarity and to allow predictive modelling.

Joe Staton, client strategy director, GfK
Consumers will be more actively involved and guarded in managing their own data for research, perhaps even charging for it, which will push up the costs of market research longer term. Just as we’ve seen consumers analyse advertisements, they’ll be increasingly savvy about market research and the value of their opinions – who to give them to, how they are used etc. Oh, and we’ll all be replaced by robots.

Jane Frost, chief executive, Market Research Society
It will remain a sector of micro-businesses. There will still be large conglomerates and of course there will be interest in how the Bain Capital-Kantar relationship plays out, but we will still have people leaving and starting up their own businesses – reflecting how the UK economy will continue to largely be powered by small business.

Ryan Howard, director, advanced analytics, Simpson Carpenter
The current tranche of data collection and storage systems exist to fulfil the specific requirements of guarded operational silos. As legacy systems are reimagined, with customer experience at the forefront, researchers will be tapping into accessible, integrated data streams. As organisations evolve, insight generation will be a necessary, baked-in part of the machinery rather than a piecemeal afterthought. Also, hoverboards. I am still holding out for flying hoverboards.

Emma Cooper, managing director, group operations, System1
Like 2019 on speed – by this time I expect clients to have fully embraced the opportunities that technology affords and expect this as a hygiene factor alongside the best methodology in each area of research.

Andrew O’Connell, managing director, UK, Dynata
When envisioning market research in 2030, we expect the growth of instant easily accessible rich data from multiple data sources to drive better and faster data-driven decision making. At the same time, the influence and adoption of new technologies will also help contribute to this, helping brands and consumers alike maintain higher levels of privacy, trust and control of data while ensuring the integrity of the fair value exchange.  

This is the final instalment of our end-of-year series, which also explored how research has changed in the past 10 years and looked at the biggest challenges facing the industry as we begin a new decade.