Marketing is a function that runs on information much more than most people realize. From the outside, it looks like a beer commercial -- lots of cool people doing creative things. Under the covers, it's much more analytics driven.
Research is a big part of that analytics process -- so research trends tell us a lot about what's going on in the world of business.
Greenbook's Industry Trends Report (GRIT) comes out twice a year and tells the story. There's a wonderful infographic with the current issue, available here. The graphics below are extracted from same - the red circles are things I added.
Marketing wants results -- if innovation gets there, fine. If not, forget it
Innovation is on the list, but not if it compromises feasibility, budget and speed. Nobody in corporate life can afford to take a lot of risks these days -- so they're not trying out innovative methods unless they solve some other problem in a big way.
Social media analytics aren't just buzz -- it's happening
The longstanding buzz about social media measurement is finally warranted. People are using it. Which means that business is taking it very seriously indeed. Everyone is still learning, it's all still changing, but it's here to stay.
Budget isn't everything -- because research questions are getting tougher
Businesses are adopting some very expensive approaches, one of which is MROCs (aka insight communities). MROCs are an innovation that IS solving a problem for clients -- these communities provide more in-the-moment access to people as they go about their actual lives. But they require real skill to set up and manage, and they are anything but cheap.
They may be difficult and costly, but they are working and they are gaining traction. Clients are finding real value there, which is why their use is growing. The growth in MROCs also shows the need for deeper insights -- when you are swimming in data (as most large organizations are these days) what you need is deeper insights. Simple questions can be answered from all kinds of internally available data. What's left for research are relatively difficult questions.
I think Gamification is a trend that suffers from sounding "bigger" than it is -- it is really just making surveys more fun. Focus groups and other qualitative methods have been moving in this direction for a long time -- mostly we call this "projective techniques".
Mobile research is also coming of age, because it is solves a problem for clients (better insights in the moment) and leverages a technology that is ubiquitous. Unlike some of the other methods discussed, however, mobile research promises to be inexpensive (eventually). Mobile will include surveys, in-the-moment reactions on site ("how did we do today?") and mobile qualitative ("take a picture of what's happening right now, and send it to me with your thoughts about...")
This infographic is evidence of another important trend affecting everyone -- we all want information that is easy to consumer and easy to find.
Another great job from Lenny Murphy and the GRIT team.