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2020 is already here, and along with a new year, we have a new decade to look forward to. There have been drastic changes in the past decade in the market research world, but we’ll save that for another blog. Today, let’s look at three market research trends that are predicted to follow us throughout the year in 2020.

2020 Market Research Trend #1: Machine Learning and AI will Aid in Segmentation

Marketing teams have long relied on segmentation to slice and dice how they classify their audiences. Online advertising, in particular, relies heavily on how personas are segmented and defined. In market research, segmentation is often done by analyzing trends within larger data sets, and dividing up consumers based on patterns and similarities. However, this still requires an analyst to create the code and data analytics that will determine how patterns are searched.

With the proliferation and improvements in machine learning and AI, a trend we’ll likely see more of in 2020 is an increase in using what’s called “deep learning segmentation” to find patterns in data that will aid in segmentation. The advantage of this approach is that machine learning programs can identify patterns that are more complex than humans can see, and they can pick out patterns without biases.

However, as any qualitative researcher will tell you, segmentation is simply the first step: once audiences have been segmented, qualitative methodologies, such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, or ethnographies should be employed next to answer the “why” and seek to learn the motivations driving people’s behavior.

Only well-funded and larger companies will have the budgets and technology to implement deep learning segmentation-types of technologies, so don’t expect this one to be widely used – though it will be present in 2020.

2020 Market Research Trend #2: Surveys will be Shorter and More Mobile-Friendly

Surveys –whether for customer satisfaction/feedback—or to poll people on behavior and opinions, will be just as prolific as in years past. However, a shift in 2020 is that survey companies and platforms are finally doing better at adopting surveys for mobile platforms, where an estimated 30-50% of surveys are taken. This is great for numerous reasons: Less surveys will be abandoned because of poor formatting on mobile devices, and mobile-first surveys will be able to be sent out to wider audiences – who may be willing to take a survey in-the-moment, if it’s short and easy on a phone.

2020 Market Research Trend #3: Qualitative Research will Become More-Widely Used by Companies

Okay, we’re going to just come out and say it: At InterQ, we’re definitely excited about trend #3, which is that companies will be relying more and more on qualitative research to learn about their customers, test their product designs, get feedback on marketing messages, and use customer input to develop new products. In the past decade, Big Data was seen as the next thing that would give companies a magic key to spot patterns and develop more tailored products and services. However, what companies learned is that data is limiting: It does indeed show patterns and trends, and it’s transformed how companies like Netflix and Amazon have been able to grow their businesses through personalization, but it still can’t provide the type of depth that qualitative research offers. For example, companies now have sophisticated data analytics software that can give them thousands of data points on customers and show patterns among populations, but they still don’t know what frustrated their customers – what the customer was looking for, but couldn’t find, or why a customer ultimately decided to go with one choice over another.

People are still people, even with all of our data, and whether it’s B2B or B2C, companies are re-familiarizing themselves with how important it is to talk to and observe their customers. This is what qualitative research does: It puts customers front-and-center, so that products and services can be created around how customers actually behave, versus what patterns point to or predict.

That wraps up our main three predictions that we hope to see make a splash in 2020. Let’s hope they pan out!

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