Conducting consumer research has always been a resource-intensive activity for companies around the world. Leading marketers spend about 4-8 percent of their marketing overheads on market research to get valuable consumer insights, which can be used to bring relevant products to the market. While quantitative market research still accounts for a major share of about 75-80 percent, marketers and agencies have been progressive in using different methods to collect data that are increasingly being adopted by companies. Neuroscience is one such technology that has gained immense traction as a market research tool over the past few years.
Emerging Technologies in Market Research
With market research expected to be more foresight based, age-old methods are increasingly being replaced with modern ones such as neuro research. Over the past five years, the fastest growing methods under use or consideration are qualitative — webcam-based interviews (+10 percent), text analytics (+9 percent) and facial analysis (+7 percent). While text analytics, social media analytics and big data have been fairly used by marketers, certain other emerging technologies have gained more importance in 2017 and 2018.
The importance of understanding human emotions led researchers to keep experimenting, and non-conscious tools that were viewed with skepticism initially started being leveraged extensively by many top players across industries.
According to analytics advisory company Gallop, companies that make use of behavior economics in research outperform their competition by about 85 percent in sales growth and about 25 percent in profit margins. P&G is moving away from the traditional attitudinal surveys to a behavior-based approach. A while ago, Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G, had said, “People’s feelings and emotions guide behavior. We try to create an emotional connection with people.” This statement holds true not just for P&G but for the entire marketing and research industry. P&G also made use of Nielsen’s Neuroscience division for their product "Gain", for which they wanted to understand the emotional connection to scent. Nielsen found that the scent of Gain stimulated a more positive and greater emotional response than listening to music. P&G was able to use the tagline “Music to your nose” for the national campaign while launching Gain single-dose pods.
Another example is of Kellogg; in February 2019, Kellogg launched a pilot test along with Accenture and Qualcomm that makes use of eye-tracking technology to determine the optimal way to stock shelves at retail outlets.
In the wake of prioritizing self-sourced raw data, companies such as Coca Cola and Nestle are experimenting with facial recognition. Coca Cola is working to upgrade its dispensers in the U.S. — which currently log the drinks to be vended — to include facial recognition and help pinpoint age, mood, gender and preference.
Impact on Procurement
Considering the advancements in technology and the investments made by leading agencies like Nielsen and Ipsos, marketers that want to truly understand their consumers and be proactive need to invest in such emerging technologies. While traditional methods such as surveys and focus groups will always be of importance, such technological advancements can be infused with existing methods. The cost associated with the investment is an aspect than procurement teams need to be aware of before availing the technology, especially for marketers that do not reserve a big percentage of budget for research. But at the end of the day, gaining deeper insight and being a few steps ahead of consumers often outweighs the cost of undertaking research.