Today’s society is better connected than ever. The 2015 Deloitte Mobile Consumer report stated that 32 million smart phones are purchased every year, and a further six million are handed down.

Clearly, consumer demand for digital devices is strong, enabling better and faster connections to be made. Already, consumers are drawn to businesses which offer them products and services in real-time.

Airbnb is a business that connects with its customers through digital platforms only. Users of the platform are able to source the product they want and choose when they want it, all at a time that suits them. The same goes for Uber, it’s an always-on digital platform which enables transactions to be carried out online and its British turnover increased tenfold in 2014 to £11.3m, highlighting its popularity.

Uber’s success shows that using digital platforms to reach your target audience is a business model that works. This begs the question: why aren’t more businesses connecting to other businesses digitally too? Consumers and businesses alike are taking advantage of the ease with which they can access their target audiences online, so businesses should behave in the same way, particularly the market research industry which is worth a staggering £3.5 billion and is the second largest in the world.

There is clearly a wealth of untapped opportunity in the market research industry, yet currently more than two thirds (68%) of research buyers say they find it challenging to source new suppliers and almost three quarters (74%) say they regard commissioning research as too time-consuming. With the proliferation of digital platforms giving a much needed boost to the economy in other industries, the market research industry needs to embrace this change and recognise that digital technology paves the way for greater business connections.

Faster connections means businesses stay on trend

Consumer trends chop and change on a continual basis; they come and go by the week and, in the future, businesses that aren’t able to jump on to these trends risk losing out. Commissioning research through digital platforms online means that as soon as brands identify a consumer trend, they can commission a research project at the click of a button, and use the resulting data to inform their marketing strategy and embrace trends in real-time. Having the ability to rapidly commission research gives brands the opportunity to create more targeted campaigns and base strategies on future trends to ensure they only market products that are in demand.

Better connections heed better results

Expertise comes in all shapes and sizes. Take buying market research for example, while it is sometimes the natural solution that the most expensive or well known supplier will be the best, more often than not this is not the case, and buyers could end up with a hefty bill and unsubstantial results. The industry houses a wealth of brilliant minds that may not always come from the largest or most established organisation, but that are equipped with the knowledge and expertise required to fulfil a brief. By connecting through platforms based on expertise rather than size or price, smaller suppliers are given the opportunity to work on bigger briefs, leading to better growth in the market research industry.

Similarly, it can be tempting to partner with a supplier purely for convenience purposes because its office is geographically close. However, research can be carried out from anywhere; connecting online enables buyers to partner with suppliers on the other side of the world. It means buyers are no longer constrained in their brief and suppliers can pitch for projects they would otherwise not be aware of, leading to further growth and invigoration within the industry.

Clearer briefs means better quality suppliers

Commissioning research through digital platforms sets the tone for speed and quality in the market research industry. Ultimately, it is beneficial to both buyers and suppliers for a brief to be clear and concise. The buyer is able to communicate exactly what they are looking for, and the supplier can pitch for projects most relevant to them. However, sometimes messages can get lost in wordy briefs that lack direction and this is where digitalising the process can help buyers of market research to create the best brief possible. The use of a unique and sophisticated algorithm will enable buyers of market research to access tools that help build bespoke research briefs, empowering them to reach the most relevant suppliers and receive more quality responses.

Globally, the market research industry has been struggling to achieve growth for over five years, which is reflective of the massive change that is happening in the industry. A recent GRIT report by US organisation, Greenbook, highlights that a large percentage of the industry agrees that by 2020, half of full service research agencies will be out of business. More businesses are incorporating online strategies in the way they are run, and companies are increasingly employing a Chief Digital Officer to oversee the range of digital strategies businesses are now adopting. This is a clear sign of how things have changed, with more business leaders believing digital technology is central to their organisation.

Speed has changed the face of the market research industry; trends are emerging more suddenly, so buyers must react more quickly. Brand and business challenges have also become more specific, so there is a need for access to specialists with the latest solutions. Those working in the market research industry need to recognise that using digital technology can connect buyers and suppliers to enhance relationships, delivering better results and driving further growth in the UK economy.


By Richard Waring, CEO and co-founder, ResearchExchange

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