Since our founding in 2001, innovation has featured as one of HRW’s central values- informing our approach to research design, our day-to-day processes, and deliverables.
To complement this daily desire to innovate, our focussed Innovation Team meet regularly to actively research new developments and emerging trends- combining a wide range of sectors (digital and tech, psychology, consumer research and beyond) to pick out, pilot, and interrogate promising ideas and tools that may support our quest to access the reality of our client’s business problems.
Over the years, we have seen many exciting new ideas come and go: approaches and digital innovations promising to be the next best thing, but not always delivering on this promise, particularly when considering the unique nuances of the healthcare space.
We know it’s important not to take these shiny new toys at face value and undertake self-funded studies on those we think show some promise: only those that have passed our rigorous tests and prove they can return validated insights are then applied in our own research projects.
In the last year alone, we have seen some very exciting new innovations enter the market and have experienced how they have changed the landscape of market research. Intrigued about what the future may hold with new ideas appearing on a regular basis, we have asked our Innovation Team experts some questions about the past and the future of innovations in market research….
Sonja Berrer (Marketing Assistant) sat down with Katy Irving (Senior Research Director and Head of Innovation) and Jaz Gill (Associate Director, Analytics) to gain a pulse on innovation today and tomorrow.
Hi guys! What has changed the most in the recent past for market research?
Katy: I mean, increasing use of technology generally has increased the speed at which we can conduct research and deliver findings to our clients… but I think in market research generally, there is also ever greater recognition that simply asking direct questions doesn’t get you reliable answers, so the increasing use of methodologies that help us more realistically engage respondents so they respond in realistic ways, help us read between the lines, or challenge participants to ensure we’re getting honesty.
Jaz: Another area that has experienced a recent boom is social media scraping and passive monitoring, but it is doubtful that they will be just as popular and effective in a few years’ time.
What innovations do you think will create the biggest changes for market research in the next 10 years?
Jaz: I think agile and nimble data collection and insight generation should create big changes in market research, if we as an industry get it right! We’re working on our own approach to this way of running projects (that already fits with our flexible and adaptable style) so watch this space.
Katy: Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are big ones for me… I think these are already having benefits for us in research, and our ability to analyse more data faster will make research more efficient. I do also expect a backlash against AI and ML as more of us realise they’re not the panacea they’re promoted to be.
What are you most excited about for the future of market research?
Katy: The cross-pollination of different disciplines in market research. I think it’s so exciting the way that we’re building market research teams that have such diverse backgrounds branching in to behavioural science, design, user experience, neuroscience, and technology or programming. I’m also optimistic because I think we as an industry are in a golden age for balancing long-standing best practice with identifying where new developments really add something of value.
Jaz: AI replacing researchers as interviewers! We can use AI to automate moderation- it’s quite far away, but eventually we may be able to use computer programmes to probe and react to answers… like the bots of today but much better. Not that I’m trying to put all our lovely Quallies out of a job…
Fingers crossed we can keep them in business for the next few years at least… What, if anything, makes you scared for the future of market research?
Jaz: Well, speaking of AI, the automation of insights and data analytics through tools such as IBM Watson certainly is a scary prospect for me- and probably a lot more realistic and imminent than robot moderators!
Katy: I worry that sometimes there is a race to adopt new techniques and new methodologies without enough evidence basis. That, combined with the tendency towards commoditisation and ‘black box’ methods is scary because it leads to so many people talking about similar approaches, and when they get ‘trendy’, not everyone is using a validated method, so our clients can get ‘turned off’ to methods that do have value but only because they were poorly executed.
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