As technology infiltrates qualitative research, our industry finds itself with a plethora of insights and media never before seen in qualitative. The ability to connect with stakeholders (both in consumer and B2B populations) on a widescale basis using technology comes with a new set of responsibilities and opportunities for agencies, end clients, and qualitative software companies. Clients are fatigued with data and there is a clamoring for better tools to analyze and communicate insights. We envision a few trends for qualitative software over the next decade.

ROI Accountability for Research Spends

Companies will demand research that has immediate ROI, creates business impact, can drive change, is flexible in a constantly changing environment, and engages the final decision makers. Building projects using technology must link back to ROI. Each project, large or small, should be designed with goals built to achieve this objective. Recently, itracks embarked on a journey with a client which shook the traditional research paradigm. The financial company challenged its teams to tackle the real-world view of customers in the financial vertical. The program helps plan sponsors keep the pulse on what employees in their industry and others care about for retirement planning and financial wellness. Our approach included an online research community filled with video responses from participants on a weekly basis. The insights are shared with current and prospective clients to show how this financial company provides best in class service.

Compressed Timelines

Have you ever had a client tell you, “I need this yesterday”? The industry is trending towards immediate insights, forcing innovation in all aspects of the research process. As part of this emerging need and trend, we can now allow for recruitment and initiation of a focus group in fifteen minutes. Mike Mou, Integrated Strategic Planning Director at Saatchi & Saatchi said, “Our client asked us to conduct focus groups on proposed new concepts with an extremely tight timeline. We built a research guide that day and…each of our groups were recruited in under seven minutes.” We see a future in which more and more brand managers will be garnering feedback in minutes, not weeks.

Live Event Research

With the rapid proliferation of online streaming of live events, new qualitative research methodologies will follow. Research is being conducted on live events including sporting events, video gaming tournaments, political presentations, and our clients’ own live events. Marketers are leveraging live feed applications such as Facebook Live and YouTube and see value in researching the customer experience. Participants watch the event they had already planned to watch and are remunerated for their feedback while it is taking place, giving clients that immediate, in-the-moment feedback.

Increased Client Engagement

Virtual backrooms available in online qualitative research platforms offer the ability for client observers to interact with a moderator in real time, with safeguards in place that make it so these same observers cannot interact directly with participants. More recently, there has been a trend towards building projects with customer immersion in mind. New methodologies allow the client to experience the research and be in a better position to implement the results. As technology advances, the client observer experience will improve to enhance client engagement during the research process.

Enhanced Participant Experience

With emerging methods such as communities, customer journey mapping, and voice of the customer initiatives, participant roles and experiences are being elevated. In a study for a nonprofit association, participants became so invested in the campaign development ideas that they requested to continue their involvement beyond the scheduled research engagement to see the website design through to completion.

As methodologies evolve, participants will be able to interact at convenient times using easily accessible methods such as mobile devices and video communications. With interviews and focus groups moving to on-demand models, the participants that happen to be available when the research is taking place can join in. With increasing time demands, participants will prefer not to commit to scheduled research sessions in advance. The time frame for incentive distribution will move to being instantaneous, allowing for immediate recognition of their time investment.

By Dan Weber
CEO, itracks
Saskatoon, Canada

This article was part of the Winter 2019 publication of QRCA Views.