The world has become increasingly connected through the proliferation of digital channels in recent years. A clear-cut example of this is the decline of print media as digital takes precedence. Omnicom’s recent annual news consumption report reveals that printed newspapers are now the least popular medium for checking news, behind digital outlets such as the internet and television, which enables consumers to access their news quicker and in real-time. With the rise of digital comes increased popularity of mobile, ushering in an era of innovation and the opportunity for businesses like Uber to connect with consumers at a much faster pace. Indeed, Deloitte’s 2015 Mobile Consumer Report finds that three quarters of adults (76 per cent) own smartphones, so it’s no surprise that such digitally led and connected businesses are thriving.
Consumers are gravitating towards products and services which offer them information in real-time and are always-on. It stands to reason then that business to business services, like those operating in the market research industry, should also be able to take advantage of these popular new operating models. Ironically for the market research industry, digital has transformed how it connects with consumers but not how companies connect with their peers. As a result, a recent GRIT report by US organisation, Greenbook, has found that a large percentage of the industry agrees that by 2020, half of full service research agencies will be out of business. Furthermore, the IPA’s latest Bellwether Report found that spend in market research has declined by 7.3 per cent.
However, this is all set to change in 2016, with digital bringing a wealth of opportunities to both buyers and suppliers of market research. Commissioning research digitally means that we will now be able to reach suppliers in distant countries, extending reach and crossing borders at the touch of a button, meaning suppliers can connect with buyers from new sectors enabling them to expand into new territories.
Four in five market research buyers (83 per cent) state they want access to the latest solutions when commissioning new projects and similarly, nearly two thirds of research buyers (63 per cent) indicate that they actively look to work with new suppliers, to capitalise on new skills and ideas. As a result, buyers and suppliers of market research are increasingly connecting through digital platforms to find each other, opening up the market place to all.
Say a buyer in New York commissioned a brief and the supplier most suited to take on the work was based in Paris; they would be able to connect instantly to discuss and develop that brief. Opening the market up in this way enables better connections to be made at a faster pace and democratises the industry, so that the most able and agile suppliers pitching will succeed regardless of their scale or location.
Speed and efficiency
The adoption of digital will also drive speed and efficiency in the market research industry. With consumer trends evolving as quickly as they are, buyers must commission research rapidly and suppliers need to be able to provide it just as quickly to inform relevant insights. Not only that, but the challenges which brands and business are facing are becoming more specific, so buyers need to be able to find specialists at the touch of a button to maintain competitive advantage. Before digital platforms and devices were developed, we would have to refer to a directory of local suppliers and trust that one of those has the desired expertise. However, we are now able to navigate an increasingly complex, but connected, world of suppliers, enabling buyers to compare knowledge, skills, abilities and value, in order to find the best solution.
Digital disruption: a force for the better
The development of advanced digital platforms will enable the market research industry to make vast improvements in the future. It will empower buyers to find new partners, experts and specialists like never before, with speed and convenience, and will also match suppliers to new business opportunities that they otherwise may not have known existed. Yes, digital technology is disrupting the market research industry and driving change, but is it a change for the better, providing a wealth of opportunities to buyers and suppliers and driving the industry onwards. These opportunities are just waiting to be unlocked, and digital holds the key to unleashing them.