Earlier this year, GreenBook put out its Research Industry Trends Report based on data it collected in the 4th quarter of 2012 (GRIT Winter 2013). The report is a terrific resource for market research suppliers and clients as well. Now, at year-end, we thought it might be worthwhile to look back at some predictions that the GRIT report made going into the year and comparing them to our actual experience here at RMS. Here are five major themes from the report that we believe definitely applied to us over the past year and appear to remain major trends going into 2014:

1. Market research clients are looking for a firm with a knowledgeable staff that will listen to them and understand their needs. When clients were asked to indicate what was most important to them when selecting a market research firm, the top two answers were “Has knowledgeable staff” and “Listens well and understands client needs.” In summing up priorities overall, the GRIT report stated, “Listening, responding rapidly, and being familiar with clients’ needs are perceived as more important.” At RMS we certainly found that to be the case in 2013, as well as in previous years. We have long known that our clients want somebody who understands needs and has the knowledge to deliver insights based on those needs, and we have made a specific effort to be more consultative in our approach to research to accommodate that. We do not expect these client priorities to change in the future.

2013 RMS Bunker Blog in Words - Click to Enlarge

2013 RMS Bunker Blog in Words – Click to Enlarge

2. It’s no longer enough to be a pure analyst. Researchers need to be strategists as well. Related to that idea of analysts becoming consultants, GRI reported that both clients and suppliers expected the mix of people working in the MR industry in the future to show a shift toward more marketing strategists and business strategists. In short, there will be increased demand for people who understand how research findings mesh into overall marketing and business strategies. Again, that is a trend that RMS has been noticing for some time now. As a result, in the past year, our reports have become more focused on recommendations and broad themes with much less emphasis being placed on data tables and charts. Basically we are spending more time highlighting what is most important and explaining how it is actionable, and less time showcasing every single morsel of data.

3. Online surveys dominate the quantitative research landscape but telephone surveys continue to be prevalent. Seventy-eight percent of the GRIT study participants said they had conducted an online survey in the past year, making it by far the most commonly used quantitative method. This should not surprise anyone who follows industry trends. One notable finding, though is that CATI-based telephone surveys were second at 44%. Despite the costs and some of the other issues associated with traditional telephone surveys, they are still an important part of the quantitative mix. That has definitely proven true here at RMS, as our project docket is still well-populated by telephone survey projects.

4. Even as new qualitative methods emerge, traditional focus groups and in-depth interviews (IDIs) continue to be a mainstay of qualitative research. Technology has expanded the menu of qualitative methods available ranging from bulletin board studies, blog monitoring and mobile image collection. That said, traditional, in-person focus groups were the most used qualitative methodology, followed by in-person IDIs and telephone IDIs. Here at RMS, our qualitative projects are heavily weighted toward telephone IDIs and in-person focus groups. Our QualiSight focus group facility has gotten a lot of use both in-house and as a rental by outside firms. So, while many qualitative methods may be seen as newer and more glamorous, the old stand-bys continue to be workhorses for our qualitative projects.

5. Mobile, online and social media technologies continue to force us to adapt our approaches to research. One of the more interesting questions in the GRIT study asked respondents if they were to create their own new research companies, what research techniques they would focus on. The top responses were mobile surveys, online, online communities, app based research, social media monitoring and mobile ethnography. This goes to show how much technology is changing the market research landscape and the degree to which people in the field expect it to do so. At RMS in 2013, we put a lot of effort into making our surveys more mobile friendly, continuously improving the look and functionality of our online interfaces and exploring new opportunities for social media, including its expanded role in panel recruitment.

This overview only begins to scratch the surface of the wealth of information contained in the 2013 GRIT report. We recommend that anyone who is interested in the direction of the MR industry to read the full report here. And we eagerly look forward to the 2014 edition.