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Why the Market Research Industry Must Wake Up and Embrace Dynamic Insight or Die
By Frédéric-Charles Petit, March 2018

Today brands need to be able to execute campaigns at 10-times the speed they were done in the past. But for this to work - and to avoid becoming the next brand that misses the mark - this requires businesses to have in-depth insight into their intended audiences in real-time, at the pace of decision-making. In a fiercely competitive global market and a fast moving, on-demand economy, this can mean the difference between success and failure.

Today's on-demand economy has also significantly transformed consumer expectations. Recent research from Salmon demonstrates that audiences now prize speed and convenience, which should come to no surprise. Amazon's one-day delivery wasn't fast enough, so they built a 2-hour delivery offer instead. Uber is often criticized if their drivers don't arrive within 10 minutes. Consumers are different, and from this moment forward, we operate at the speed of customers' need, no longer dictating how research should look or what form consumer insights should take.

All of the market research industry has unfortunately not been steadily moving towards a new way of providing insights that address the need for speedy, informed decision-making. What has become an absolute need is being wrongly portrayed (a common occurrence with paradigm shift) as the alteration of fundamental market research and data collection principles, or the marginalisation of claimed data to the sole benefit of observation of social media.

This is not what it is about. Instead what it underpins is the requirement of every business to adopt an entirely new way of thinking and to leverage technology to efficiently and accurately understand consumers' perceptions, needs, intent, and behaviour. To some extent it is the shift from carriage to petrol car to electrical unmanned vehicle: what differentiates them is speed, efficiency and time. This is the same for the new ways of driving on-time, on-demand consumer insights. They were not required or possible before. They are indispensable today.

With more than 44% of market research professionals stating that they use data to supplement their research programme, agile and innovative brands are looking for dynamic insights. And a confluence of technology trends makes this possible. But data only gets us the 'what' and the 'how' for consumer attitudes and behavior - not the 'why'. Without the human element, we will never understand human intent and perception. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky famously said, 'A robot can open a door and let you into a home but it's not going to make you feel welcome'.

The right solution to provide the solid market intelligence companies need right here, and right now lay in the amalgamation of technology with wide-ranging communities that can be tapped for immediate insights, claimed and behavioural all in real time and on demand. And, in the constantly changing global marketplace, brand survival or adaptation depends on their ability to do just that, and continue to progress into the future.

This is where we need to conceptually think about how research should and could be conducted in today's world. What are brands really looking for? And how should this be designed, built and accessed over time? How can we provide real-time feedback in the moment and not just static data that quickly goes stale? Consumers are, after all, consumers wherever they sit in the world.

Building on this, on the 22nd of January, the insights on demand Consortium was launched. This is a partnership between brands and individuals from all industries; iconic brands such as Procter & Gamble, L'Oréal, Nestlé, Nature's Way and innovative partners like Toluna, W20, AKQA, Simmons Research and Harris Interactive. The idea behind the consortium is that together, we can provide insights and awareness that help our industry to evolve and to broaden the scope of influence that this new way of conducting 'market research', or what we'll now call 'Insights on Demand,' within today's on-demand economy.

The next meeting of the Consortium will take place in March and initially, the group will focus on topics that include the scalability of expertise, the need for ongoing real-time consumer insight, and fragmentation of research tools and technologies.

I'm very excited to be able to share the outcomes of the meeting going forward and champion best-practice approaches to adopting transformational insight strategies enabled by technology and automation.

The concept of Insights on Demand transcends market research because it allows real-time consumer insights to be accessible to a much broader scope of individuals outside of traditional researchers. Insights on Demand is poised to be bigger than market research not only because it's broader and accessible to more clients, but because it's fundamentally better than market research as we know it.

Insights on Demand is the way forward, it is what will transform and expand our industry. But more than anything it is what will provide brands with accurate real time actionable insight. It is bigger than market research as we know it because it's broader and accessible to more clients; it is ultimately a democratization of research fused through technology and automation: Finally we can say welcome to the 21stcentury.

Frédéric-Charles Petit

Frédéric-Charles Petit is the founder and CEO of ITWP, the parent company of Toluna.