consumer and market

How Covid-19 Made Consumer and Market Insights Age Faster: The key skills market researchers will need to thrive in 2021

As consumers filled their shopping carts with toilet paper and bags of pasta, demand for goods with a lengthy shelf-life boomed in 2020.

All the while, analysts were being inundated with requests for insights from across their organizations. But in times of such rapid change, the lifespan of an insight grows shorter. Unlike the long-life items flying off the shelves, insights effectively became perishables.

I want to talk about the impact of this change on consumer and market researchers. If insights don’t last, how will that affect workflows, reporting cadences, and relationships across teams within an organization? Most importantly, how will it affect outcomes? I believe 2021 will see even more change for insights professionals, particularly for slow-moving businesses who will be forced to take action quicker.

What’s changed?

In Brandwatch’s recent report entitled ‘The Market Researcher of 2021,’ we surveyed over 100 industry professionals from within our network to learn more about the challenges and opportunities in the field in 2021.

One respondent wrote: “Although my market predictions are often correct because of the tools (like Brandwatch) I have at my fingertips, I also need to be ready to explain that what I developed a month ago may well be wrong now.

Another said that “the biggest challenge into 2021 is that retrospective data may become void in the new normal.

Both respondents speak to the shortened lifespan of insights, whether that’s insights garnered from looking at historical data or those generated recently from real-time data. Others spoke about the increase in demand for insights – as consumer behavior changed, there was a greater need to understand those changes from across organizations.

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The right data at the right time

There are a few ways that these challenges can be tackled in 2021:

More automation: Where possible, automated reports and AI assistance can help with the speedy generation and delivery of insights. For example, Brandwatch’s AI assistant Iris will automatically show analysts what’s driving spikes in the volume of incoming data over time. Automation speeds up processes and makes responding to requests easier, although analysts will likely need to continue to prioritize across 2021, especially in the early months.

Better communication: With the tools doing much of the heavy lifting with data, analysts can spend a bit more time working on the delivery. The ability to tell engaging stories with data and to argue effectively with the help of data points is vital. One of our respondents in the aforementioned survey wrote that a key skill in 2021 will be “The ability to argue compellingly supported with insights as to why a leader should behave differently than they currently do. No matter how great an insight is, it is worthless unless a behavior or decision is changed as a result of it.”

Tactful timing: Bearing in mind actionability, ensuring that the delivery of insights lines up with key events where decisions are made is vital. For example, if it’s possible to deliver insights in a meeting with all decision-makers present, there is a greater chance of those insights making an impact. Meanwhile, as requests fly-in, the key question leaders must ask is “how will the insights generated be actioned?” Without a satisfactory answer to how insights will be turned into business-critical action, fast, requests can be rejected or sent to the back of the queue.

The need for faster action

Insights aren’t really insights if they’re not actionable. Communication quality and timing are always vital.

Ongoing, real-time research can also be valuable for tracking changes in rapidly shifting consumer behavior. Tools like automated alerts and standardized processes for tracking change make this achievable without someone being constantly logged in to the insights tool.

As Ben Ellis, Senior Research Consultant at Brandwatch says: “At any one time you only really understand as much as the last insight you received about your consumers. If you don’t tap into those conversations regularly, you can’t confidently say you know your consumers.”

With consumer and market behavior continuing to adapt, businesses need to respond quickly. It will be the key to success in the coming year, and market researchers have an important role to play in that success.

You can read more about the skills, tools, and behaviors market researchers will need to thrive in 2021 in Brandwatch’s free guide here. And, if you’d like to find out how Brandwatch’s leading platform can enrich your consumer and market research, book a free personalized demo.

Gemma Joyce

Gemma Joyce

Gemma has produced insights reports and best practice content for digital consumer intelligence company Brandwatch for five years. Her work has been featured by large media outlets around the world and she's shared insights with live audiences at Twitter's London HQ, Oxford University, and more.

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