Voice and the rise of home devices and smart speakers are opening up new possibilities for researchers, enabling respondents to engage beyond simply typing a response and creating opportunities for ongoing dialogue.

In an ESOMAR paper, What market research can learn from Alexa & Siri, a trio of authors – Young Ham (Kantar Australia), Jason Dodge (Kantar US) and Rebecca Southern (Kantar Australia) – extol the benefits of chatbots and AI.

“These can help bridge the gap between quantitative and qualitative, offering more in-depth ways to better understand today’s consumers,” they write.

“These give the chance to participate in a more interactive, flowing manner that is more conversational than a typed response.”

And for marketing and insights teams, they add, “AI can deliver smarter, more impactful consumer engagement... at scale”.

Thus, user-generated content, collected from many one-on-one interactions between AI-powered devices and real people, provides researchers with “live, nuanced insight” – and as the AI keeps on learning and improving, so too can the way research is conducted.

The authors offer the example of standard diary studies. “How much simpler this is when someone’s in the kitchen making dinner and you’ve asked for them to record this,” they point out: “they can now just speak as they do it rather than stopping and starting to type what they’re doing or waiting until after and not recording all the detail.”

A quantitative and qualitative hybrid approach through conversational research can also capture images and videos from people in the moment – a data enrichment that matters in many scenarios but especially for diary studies, they note. “It importantly moves away from self-reporting and offers a window to the real-life behaviours of the consumer.”

The use of AI also means that brands can more easily create personas that fit their brand audience, the authors say, by matching the tone and language to make the bot persona tailored and authentic – a key step in moving from a traditional survey into a conversational environment.

“Developing a script in the first person and making it relevant to the respondents, the power of this new tool can work harder in the research process than any tool to date,” they maintain.

“Again, to think like a consumer, if someone speaks in a language that you can understand and resonates with you then your involvement in the conversation will be significantly heightened.

“The key here is how agile the chatbot technology is in order to respond to the responses given in real-time. This is where the true benefits of conversational AI will be delivered in the long term.”

Sourced from ESOMAR