The evolution of market research
Our today’s discussion focuses on a topic that’s been mentioned before in our previous articles, but hasn’t been talked in detail until now. In the following lines we will try to understand the concept of market research, how it appeared and most important, how it has evolved, as well as other small remarks.
We should start by letting everyone know that market research is a branch of marketing that deals with the collection, centralization, analysis and interpretation of market data related to customers, products or services.
As a brief history, it’s worth mentioning that market research has developed as a filed in the early period of the 20th century. The premises of its improvement were both specialized in nature (the breakthrough in mathematical statistics and probability theory, management and marketing, psychology and sociology) just as components of financial setting (expanding large scale manufacturing, creating correspondence stations, propels in promoting and branding). Market research is now defined as an approach to social research, also developed intensively at the empirical level in the middle of the last century.
After World War II, specialized capacities as far as information handling power expanded exponentially. In this manner, significant advancements of the strategies identified with information understanding were conceivable by utilizing numerical information in examine forms. The utilization of PCs and examination programming has led to widespread market research among organizations.
Over the years, certain areas have emerged in which market research has proliferated and some specialization has taken place. Such specific areas of research are:
-Brand and communication
-Structures, market shares
-Satisfaction of customers, loyalty
-Testing of product or concept
-Segmentation of the market
-Research, sectoral analyzes
-Research on distribution channel (mystery shopping)
Nowadays, market research is used in the most varied areas of economic life. Among the relevant examples are listed; consumer goods markets (FMCG), durable goods (including the auto market), services (telecom, banks, insurance), non-profit organizations.
Often developments in the statistical survey industry sound as slow as progress itself. In reality, technological innovations have powered the progressions for some time, and have even been adopted by different businesses. Many of us can recall when paper reviews were the standard and the adoption of online, and then mobile methodology was slow. Today though, a paper survey is virtually unheard of.
Using the next timeline of market research, we want our readers to understand the origins of the methodologies that we rely on today:
· 1900s–1940s – The Quantitative Questionnaire Era
The first true market research instances came about in the 1920s when a man by the name of Daniel Starch developed a hypothesis that ads had to be observed, read, believed, understood, and, most importantly, acted on to be considered successful. Starch and his associates would approach people on the street asking if they were reading certain publications, and if so, if they could remember specific advertisements in them. They would then compare the number of people they interviewed with the magazine's circulation to see how effective those advertisements were in reaching readers. Soon after, a lot of other companies started offering similar services.
· 1940s–1960s – Qualitative Consumer Era
During the post-World War II economic boom, consumptionism became much more prevalent in American society. With this, came a distinct need for a deeper and more personal understanding of consumers and their choices. While quantitative surveys (especially usage and studies of attitude) remained the standard of the day, researchers began developing new practices to go beyond the numbers. Techniques such as the focus group (developed at Columbia University in the late 1930s by Robert Merton and Paul Lazarsfeld) gained more attraction.
· 1960s–1980s – Refining the Process
In the 1960s, quantitative methods came back to the fore, and methodologies continued to develop with the advent and assistance of new technology — especially computers, telephone systems, and the Internet. During this period of time, qualitative methods took a backseat, but continued to be refined.
· Present – The Digital Era
Today, with dozens of tools and methodologies at our disposal, market research agencies are pulling from a large ecosystem of methodologies and tools to provide a much broader consumer view. Integrated qualitative and quantitative approaches allow marketers to understand individual and group level consumers. In order to understand how consumers interact with media and brand messages, we can now use semiotics, social listening and communication.
The Internet has had the greatest impact in this period. Companies and brands now have the ability to frequently measure the pulse of consumers and they can have a much more informed, open and iterative discussion with more customers or a wider target audience.
There are so many different types of tools that are now available to the market research industry — from DIY tools that provide the ability to create surveys to support decision-making for concepts and package design, to digital tracking that has the ability to give you real-time insight into online and mobile consumer behavior.
While there is no crystal ball that predicts what the future of market research will hold, we know technology will keep improving the methodologies. Businesses have started to realize the power behind market research and we believe that this importance will continue to grow (as it has since the 1990s).