Joy or Gnashing Teeth: The Future of MR

Posted by: Scott Luck
  • June 13, 2013
  • 4

The debate rages on: will the mainstream of the market research industry be able to adapt to the rapid pace of change, much of this change coming from technical disruption? This week, Lenny Murphy in his post “A Rising Tide Floats All Boats: Thoughts On Where MR Is & Where We Are Going”  suggests researchers rejoice rather than gnash our teeth. It got me thinking.

Let’s consider the goings on of the CASRO Technology Conference in NY a few weeks ago, where MR technologists and innovation-oriented thinkers gathered to explore the impact of expanding platforms on our industry. There I found both joy and gnashing.

Here’s a few highlights & hot topics from the CASRO Technology Conference:

Mobile Goes Mainstream, Researchers’ Ramp Up Is Slow-w-w

The adoption of mobile devices around the globe continues at breakneck speed, but generally, researchers’ pace of innovation lags far behind marketplace dynamics. Most agencies don’t have a proactive policy to allow or disallow mobile entry into the majority of surveys, and only 70% of research firms employ device detection at the start of the surveys. (Joy. At LRW, we have both in place. #Idontwanttobrag.)

MR technologists understand the research and survey design processes need an overhaul to address inherently different interface needs, survey-taking patterns and “drop-off” issues. But they’re unsure about whether researchers are willing to change their ways. Accordingly, most surveys are designed for PC users.

The implications of neglecting the current realities of mobile are significant, leading to issues of biased samples and poor quality insights. Teeth gnash.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Some in research can seize new opportunities from the wealth of meta-data available when respondents opt to share their geo- and behavioral-data from their mobile devices, helping clients learn from the new marketplace. At the conference we heard a case study about a new app that fills in many information gaps in consumers’ path-to-purchase, providing unique insights on both purchase influence and marketing effectiveness. It’s a different kind of insight process, but research is about solving business problems. Joy ensues.

Does Size Really Matter? Or How Big is Your Data?

It’s difficult to comprehend the exponential growth of data in volume, along with the diversity of its shape and form. With the promise of big data, researchers face numerous hurdles when it comes to aggregating, synthesizing and leveraging the data pile up. Teeth gnash.

Ironically, it seems one way to convert Big Data is to “Opportunity Data,” actually make it small data, which allow us to focus, target and contextualize. In this way, we may find more success by structuring our analyses to solve business questions, rather than merely exploring open-endedly.

Big Data will not have all the answers and will likely stimulate an understanding of the what but not always the why. At LRW, our goal is to become more and more data agnostic, willing to merge data sets to allow us to view different angles of a problem, market or opportunity.

One presenter suggested we should “Wake Up or Die.” Teeth clatter.

There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat

If you’ve spoken with an LRW’er in the past year, you’ll know that we fully understand that direct questioning and explicit measurement don’t always yield the full and accurate picture of consumer motivations, beliefs or attitudes. At CASRO Tech, we enjoyed seeing new ways to interact with consumers to gain a deeper understanding of the whats and whys.

Gamification approaches can uncover insights about brands without explicit measures while delivering engaging experiences to respondents. Facial tracking can help us understand young children’s reactions to “the new,” when they lack the ability to verbally articulate themselves.

Virtual reality…wait…they didn’t even talk about that at the CASRO Tech Conference! Thankfully, we will bring it to the The Market Research Event in Nashville, Oct 21-23 and reveal VR’s awesome potential. (#Shameless plug.) See you there! We’ll bring the blue body paint.  Joy.

  • Allen Bonde
    June 17, 2013
    Great post and love the point about 'small data.' Focus and targeting is definitely the key to making insights *actionable* - and better understanding whats and whys. For more thoughts on topic and what tools are emerging to leverage small data readers may want to check out my blog (
  • Matt Walker
    June 14, 2013
    Great article - thanks for writing. The very interesting thing will be to see how both sides of the partnership react to the new technologies. The rate of innovation now is so much higher than ever before for our industry, which may put some people on their heels. Success will result from suppliers that seek out/develop, learn, and master these new technologies, coupled with clients that are open to stepping outside the norm/usual in order to increase the marginal insights gained from the research. The 'elephant in the room' is that there are pressures for some to use the tried-and-true methodologies, so the challenge is to understand the new innovations (makes them less intimidating) and understand both how they are able to elicit better insights, as well as the degree to which they are better. And, a certain degree of risk is inherent when working with bleeding-edge tools and methodologies. However, "with great power comes great responsibility". Partnerships built on mutual trust, respect for each other, and respect for the research, will allow for the calculated selection of tools and methodologies that will maximize the degree of success for everyone. The overall goal of collecting information to help our clients' products/services/brands win has not changed, though continual innovation provides more [and often better] paths to help us do so. Couldn't be more excited!
  • Jen Valenzuela
    June 14, 2013
    Love this post, thanks Scott! Just finished a really interesting study for a global retailer where we tested the same survey with 3 separete methods: standard PC panel, in-store recruit, and geofencing panel (lcoation-based survey invites). Learned a ton...there were both joy-inducing and teeth-gnashing moments! Can't wait to see where the next few years takes us with mobile technology.
  • Joan
    June 13, 2013
    Change is always difficult but researchers are problem-solvers!!! Onward and upward!

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