If you thought the future was going to be elegantly and efficiently connected for international brand builders, think again: this is not the age of globalization, it is the age of hyper diversification. As markets fragment into more and more niches and consumers open their scope of access to new information and brands, marketing research in general, and qualitative researchers in particular might find themselves confused about their ever-changing object of study: people.

After some consideration, they might even wonder… is it even really an object of study anymore? Aren't people constantly studying themselves with free tools like Survey Monkey and automatic ones like the algorithms of Amazon and Spotify? Aren't markets and brands looking back at themselves through the mirrors of Google Trends and big data?

One would be excused to think that the line between the studied one and the one who studies is getting confusingly blurry. We could even take it so far as to speculate about the border between brand and consumer being the next thing getting fuzzy.