The State of Chaos – an Opportunity in Disguise

The State of Chaos – an Opportunity in Disguise

Feedback from our Qual360 Europe event last week showed that many participants were surprised by the positive energy and creative stimulus that has gripped the MR industry. Rather than licking their wounds, market researchers are tackling the future with real excitement and a strong will to innovate and progress.

We spoke to some of our presenters for the upcoming MRMW NA conference held virtually on April 20-22, to see if they echoed this sentiment. The short answer: Across industries and regions, researchers are embracing change and driving innovation.

Pallavi Agarwal, User Researcher at Amazon tells us: “Despite the economic state of consumer insights as an industry, I firmly believe that there has been no better time to focus on building experiences and products that cater to this altered reality. To achieve this we need customer insight. This state of chaos is really an opportunity in disguise.”

This excitement is also echoed by Laith Ulaby, UX Research Director at Patreon. “Such an exciting time! There are more tools, platforms, and services than ever to empower the work we do. The flipside of this is that organizations can be increasingly overwhelmed with data and insights. As an industry, I think we will have to think more and more about quality over quantity.“ says Ulaby.

Google’s Head of Cross Portfolio Research, Mac Smith notes that established approaches are on the verge of great change. According to him, the industry is at an inflection point and our ability to observe or measure human experience will continue to exponentially improve.  Despite the global changes of 2020 that will deeply challenge our ability to predict changes long term, “It’s the most exciting time I could imagine for customer research.” Smith adds.

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There are some cautious notes to be heard too though. Jennifer Collins, Vice President of Research and Insights at Citi warns that the demand for quicker insights cannot (and should not) cause us to compromise on delivering deep, holistic insights. If we do, we will regret that sooner or later.

So what about the global pandemic and Covid-19? While surprisingly absent during the discussions at Qual360 Europe (which I take as another sign that the industry is moving on and really wanting to progress…) Covid of course has been dominating the discussions for the past year now. What are the learnings from the past months – and what does the future hold?

Mac Smith says: “Covid has rapidly upended many basic customer assumptions, leaving industry leaders grasping to understand what changes will be ephemeral and what will endure. The impact of COVID on the world is ongoing, increasing the difficulty in distinguishing signal from noise. This year will test our discipline’s ability to interpret and predict customer response in the face of great change.”

Laith Ulably adds: “As has happened with many social upheavals, Covid has accelerated many changes that were already happening and helped to bring other trends into focus. From a practical perspective, prospective research participants have become even more conversant in the kinds of platforms that enable remote research and it has helped to challenge at least some of the assumptions about remote research.

Jennifer Colins notes that Covid has caused both corporations and consumers to re-prioritize what is important and where to spend their time and money. Aligning with consumer values will remain a priority moving forward.

Do you share these sentiments? Happy to hear your thoughts and opinions – and of course discuss more during MRMW NA from April 20-22. Grab your tickets here!

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Jens Cornelissen

Jens Cornelissen has been writing for over two decades – initially for general newspapers in his home country Germany. After receiving an MA degree in Communications, he joined a new media start-up in Amsterdam as consultant on new media technologies and country editor for two daily newsletters. In his current day job, Jens runs the global conference division for Merlien’s dedicated marketing research events. Jens is a trained journalist with a BA in Journalism from Westminster University in London and has authored several media industry reports and articles on mobile and media technology.

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