Market Research: An Innovation Report 2022/23

2022 was a tough year for the MR industry. Early industry data showed that Market Research was squeezed hard, which was not unexpected, with budgets under pressure to go further. That is why, more so than ever, it is important to stay strong, have the right forward thinking, pro-active approach and dogged determination, which has been and will continue to be essential to survive. 

2023 remains uncertain; a recession is looming, which means we must deliver better value, find smarter solutions and be on-call to assist the second we are needed. There will be challenges along the way, that we will have to overcome as we navigate through the year, but we will continue to delight by providing outstanding research. 

This report is designed to be a summary of what is happening in our industry, so that we can share as much knowledge and transparency as possible. We will have a look at how the industry experts faired with their predictions, how our predictions faired and then look at what everybody believes will be the trends for 2023.  

Market Research Industry Predictions 2022

Here is what the industry predicted for 2022, were they right? 

Major growth through consolidation

Right. It all happens in the background, and we only notice the ones that involve companies we know, but here is the data for all the mergers and acquisitions within the UK for the last 5 years and you can see the spike we are experiencing. 

UK Mergers & Acquisitions over last five years

Currently, just over 50% of all MR budget is spent in the US, and with that figure expected to rise to 60% in the next 5 years, we should expect to see large acquisitions taking place to increase capability and quality in the US.   

Data quality and reliability at risk

Yes, thank goodness! Great data is needed to help make informed decisions. Although most clients know how important well rewarded consumers are to that process, the constant evolution of fast automated platforms can push the rewards that people receive for participating in projects down, which in turn affects the quality of the data received. It has been good to see recognition from companies that haven’t been giving consumers fair incentives and that they have indeed been undervaluing participants. 

Inflated sample costs

Yes, the costs are rising for sampling. The increasing complexity of research projects, the need for more specialised knowledge and the requirement for higher quality data have contributed to these rising costs. As a result, companies are facing growing pressure to find cost-effective ways to conduct market research while maintaining the quality of their data and insights. 

New business models and non-traditional client engagement will thrive 

This was and still is open to broad interpretation, and I think it was trying to point out that traditionally run ‘fixed’ companies would struggle to keep up with the start-up mentality, and if so, then it is proved right. The only way traditional corporate businesses can compete with a start-up that has a great idea and agile operation is to buy them, which is happening, a lot. The other side of this issue is the tech start-ups who are just copying ideas and re-inventing the wheel, they are being found out much earlier and struggling to raise the capital that has this far been quite simple to source, ultimately putting them out of business. It’s a tough stance, but I believe this had to happen and is a good thing for our industry, it means that only genuinely needed solutions with real value are making it to market. 

So overall a good set of predictions from the industry. 

Blue Yonder Research Industry Predictions 2022

Here is what Blue Yonder predicted for 2022, were we right? 

Clients need stronger relationships to support their internal objectives

Absolutely, there is nothing more rewarding than feeling like an extension of the client’s team and being a trusted partner to support objectives. This need isn’t going anywhere, and in many ways, it will be as important throughout 2023, as we steer through the global economic problems. 

AI will need to be more than just a sales system with big claims

Yes, it does! We’ve always known this and although there have been a few giant leaps for AI in 2022, the overall ResTech (Research Technology) sector is currently making hundreds of redundancies a week in the UK alone. There simply isn’t a big enough market for the number of AI platforms, so if you’re launching one, it had better be good and meet a need. 

Consumer incentives need to be more transparent 

Half right. Of course, it should be, but full transparency is some way off. It is a tough issue that no one really wants the responsibility of governing within the industry. There are ethical guidelines that should protect participants, but policing the industry is hard and on ongoing problem, although we are seeing better acknowledgement of the issue from the larger companies. We will be working hard to ensure that people are rewarded fairly for their time and commitment to a project and will continue to press the industry to do the same.  

Heavy traditional product testing will be streamlined and pushed to less certain digital techniques

Not as much as I thought. There is still a lot of talk about getting to decisions quicker by testing out the market with digital alternatives to physical product testing, but actually doing it is a big call and that hasn’t happened yet. The issue is getting large clients with safe systems in place that they have used to determine action standards for many years to change. The reality is, there are probably a few more iterative steps to take before they get the confidence to trial product testing digitally. I believe that they will switch, in the not too distant future, we just have to make the right product for them. 

So, let’s have a look at what the industry is predicting for the year ahead. 

Market Research Industry Predictions for 2023

Cheaper and easier-to-use platforms

The logic behind this prediction is that clients will be looking to turn to more DIY/self-serve options for their research. I disagree with this in principle as the market is awash with outdated platforms that weren’t needed in the first place. The decline showing already in AI/ResTech companies would suggest that the need for more doesn’t currently exist. 

Consumer priorities will shift from cost to health

In recent years, health has been driving change in consumer habits, whether that is meat-free, low-fat, low-salt, low-sugar, natural, organic, the list goes on, and brands have worked hard to meet these new demands. However, in the past, price has always been king and brands could steer consumers to make the choices they wanted, not anymore apparently. Even with record high inflation, consumers will be looking for better value within their newfound behaviours of healthy living, to ensure they save money whilst sticking to the products they want. 

Insight Communities to experience tremendous growth 

A good bet, as without them, to whom do we ask all our research questions. I see this as a biproduct of the automated platforms finally understanding the value of people and turning to well-funded communities rather than almost ‘free’ mass sample providers. I really hope this one is correct. 

More use of real time data and insights  

This one raises its head every couple of years. If you have seen a live data demo it’s truly exciting and it’s easy to see why it will be used more in the future. But it will always be a challenge as live data collection is complicated and we often rely on verification in order to meet data integrity standards. However, where there is a will, there is a way and I definitely feel that we need to get to live data reporting sooner or later. 

Greater use of virtual and augmented reality (aka The Metaverse)

We can sense that this is coming, and our task force is ready and waiting to strike as and when the first metaverse brief lands. The reality is that the uptake is slow, but it is clear that there are many impactful applications for combining traditional methods with virtual reality. We will be testing in the next few months and demonstrating the benefits back to the business. 

So that is what the industry is saying, an interesting set of predictions this year, not as fluffy as usual, and all quite simple to track. So, what do I think will get the most attention this year, here goes… 

Jonathan Million’s predictions for 2023

USA will increase global market spend

50% of the entire global market research spend is in the US, and I expect this to rise to 60-70% in the next 5 years. It will be increasingly important to find the best trusted international partners, working closely with them to ensure expected quality levels. 

More focus on data integrity

We all know the importance of good data, this is what helps to make informed decisions. Lack of data integrity can lead to poor decision making, wasted resources, and a loss of trust and credibility. But who defines good? Well, it’s governed and we as a business have standards that we work to, but I think clients will need more information on where their data comes from, so they know they can make informed decisions, with the upmost confidence. Therefore, I can see fully transparent data models becoming the norm. 

ChatGPT will be an everyday tool:

It was a good year for some AI platforms, but more so a good year for recognising that the AI uprising shouldn’t be feared and isn’t going to take jobs away. It is simply going to aid humans in doing more work, allowing you to achieve more in less time. It takes a lot to scare Google, but ChatGPT has, although I suspect Google’s version won’t be too far behind. The main thing to remember with ChatGPT or other similar tools, is that they are there to assist humans, and there will be a real need for experts who can get the best from these AI tools. Beware of those who claim it can do their job for them, if that is the case then they are not that good, humans can always add more!

Executive Summary

I have put this report together to reflect recent market research insights, predictions and trends. The report is based upon my analysis of the industry, as well as my own opinions and findings. 

My report concludes with predictions for the future of market research innovation in 2023.  It is expected that the industry will continue to evolve and adopt new technologies to meet the changing needs of consumers and businesses.  As such, we must remain adaptable and open to new ideas in order to stay competitive in the years to come. 

For me personally, I am very excited about 2023. We have an incredible team that is constantly growing, we have amazing products and facilities that support client’s needs, and we are in a good place to achieve our goals and objectives for the coming year, as we strive to become the No 1 Global R&D Insight Agency. 

Thank you for reading! 

Written by Jonathan Million, CIO & Founder of Blue Yonder Research, published on 20th February 2023.

Jonathan Million, CIO & Founder of Blue Yonder Research

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