Is the Market Research Industry Lagging Behind?

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Why the Market Research Industry is Lagging (and 3 Ways to Fix It)

When your phone can schedule appointments and tell you how many carbs are in your morning latte, it’s hard to imagine a time when tech didn’t rule every aspect of life. But not every industry moves at such sophisticated speeds.

It’s ironic: The market research industry is often responsible for analyzing tech usage and satisfaction, but it isn’t as quick to evolve and improve as the very products for which it conducts research. Instead, the same tired methods of market research are being used (polls, surveys) by the same market research professionals (an aging pool).

By taking an in-depth look at why market research is lagging behind other industries in terms of tech and innovation, it becomes clear what the industry needs to become more prolific: New blood, new methods, and better data. Here’s how.

An Uphill Battle

Making over an entire industry isn’t an easy task, but in the case of market research, it’s necessary. The same methods have been used for decades; but while they proved effective before, consumers are infinitely savvier. The shift in how consumers think about products, spend their money, and share their opinions isn’t as simplistic as picking up the phone and answering a few questions.

Unfortunately, the issue starts long before someone enters the market research industry. Market research doesn’t hold much share in post-secondary education systems, with most candidates being wooed into marketing and advertising before breaking into market research. And, even if a graduate specifically wanted to enter the industry, the way intelligence is gathered, analyzed, and disseminated varies from firm to firm and isn’t heavily taught in most marketing programs.

Once a new candidate makes it into market research, lagging pay and outdated software can also cramp his or her style. Rather than coming up with solutions and instituting sophisticated software, most market research firms are playing catch-up to other media firms. The too-rigid structure of subject, survey, and results means that market research lags behind more fluid data mining techniques.

Fixing the Industry

Market research isn’t going away, but it needs an extreme makeover to stay consistently relevant, especially when other media companies are procuring their own data in-house. Here’s three ways in which the market research industry can start rehabbing its image:

  1. Better Options for Grads. The market research industry needs millennials for new blood, new ideas, and outright enthusiasm. By raising awareness of market research job opportunities for grads, industry pros can offer options for those who are thinking outside of the advertising firm in terms of marketing jobs. Similarly, taking the time to highlight the social impact marketing research offers can help lure millennials into the industry.
  2. Improve Earnings and Responsibilities. New hires want responsibility, and the structure of the market research industry allows for even the greenest employees to get their feet wet. By offering as much room for growth, earnings, and responsibilities as possible, market research firms can help highlight the benefits over a traditional job in advertising and marketing.
  3. Focus on Flexibility. Market research can learn a thing or two from media outlets and advertising: Sometimes, you throw something new out there just to see if it’ll stick. Rather than rigid surveys and inflexible polls, the market research industry needs to adapt to how modern consumers buy, think, and share. A new polling method might not stick the first time around, but it’s OK to see how something works and tweak it until it’s perfect.

It’s not a question as to whether or not market research is relevant (it certainly is), but rather within the realm of discussing the advantages and disadvantages of traditional market research, and more precisely, how to make results more relevant to modern applications. By stepping up in terms of software, recruiting, and methods, intelligent data isn’t just practical; it’s indispensable.

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