The future of research – new survey findings

Data analytics Innovations Opinion Trends

In today’s marketplace, changes and disruptions are becoming the rule rather than the exception. And, according to marketing and insights professionals, it’s having a serious effect on how they conduct research.


To understand the state of the agile research landscape—and where it’s headed going forward—we surveyed 395 insights and marketing professionals from 25 different industries and 14 global markets and shared the findings at our Simply Smart Event. Below are some of the highlights.

The Need for Market Understanding

When we asked marketing and insights professionals about their budget allocation for research, one area rose above the rest. On average, respondents are allocating 31% of their budget for Market Understanding research—ahead of New Product Development, Brand, and Comms.

And this trend is unlikely to reverse course. Fifty-eight percent of respondents expect to increase their Market Understanding budget over the next one to two years—again ahead of NPD, Brand, and Comms. Respondents in the Asia Pacific region and in marketing professions, specifically, are even more resolute in their belief that they will conduct more Market Understanding research in the near future.

The Challenges Researchers Face

We also asked respondents to share the top challenges they face in their day-to-day roles, and there was a clear top two: limited budgets ( 61%) and limited internal resources ( 47%). These were followed by actionability of insights, quality of research versus speed, and data quality.

When asked about current areas of focus within their organizations, actionability of insights was cited again. With limited resources and budget, it’s critical that research initiatives deliver high-quality insights to drive important business decisions.

The Acceleration of Tech

Today’s marketing and insights professionals use varying service levels to support their research needs at a given time, including DIY, Assisted, and Full Service. This demonstrates the need to be agile from a service model perspective.

When asked about the future, 64% of respondents said they expect their use of DIY research to increase in the next one to two years. Assisted Service is also expected to experience a net increase in usage, while Full Service will see a downturn.

How will marketing and insights professionals effectively make this shift? By increasing their reliance on research technology platforms. Currently, half of respondents say they use two or three tech platforms to support their market research needs. And over half of respondents say they expect to increase their number of research technology platforms over the next one to two years.

Not only are they open to research technology, but they’re open to new tools, too. Over a third of respondents say they will start using A.I. in their research, and four in ten say they will increase their use of online qualitative research.

The Need for Smart Simplification

While marketing and insights professionals plan to increase the number of research technology platforms they use, the platforms must make the research process simpler. And simplification can come in many different forms.

When we asked marketing and insights professionals what was most important in their day-to-day roles over the next one to two years, 66% cited scalability. They also desire a proper onboarding and a user-friendly experience. Sixty-two percent of respondents want training on tech platforms and over half desire easy-to-use tech platforms. As they navigate internal change—whether that be employee turnover or financial ebbs and flows—they need technology that makes their lives simpler.

They also need platforms that deliver the high-quality data and insights they need to support important business decisions. Sixty-three percent of respondents said that integration of different data sources will be important to their roles in the coming years. And when asked what areas that suppliers should be focusing on, over half mentioned quality of insights, design, and data, as well as easy-to-use outputs.

On the overall findings of the research study, Susan Vidler, Global Chief Research Officer at Toluna, said, “In order to address the challenges that insights and marketing professionals face, technology platforms need to be easy to use and must provide scalable, high-quality research solutions and outputs.

You can download the full report here