E-commerce has revolutionised the way that businesses and consumers have interacted over the last decade. Consumers are increasingly shopping online, generating massive sales volume. In the United States, e-commerce revenue grew over 20,000-fold from 1998 to last year.
But it is not just consumers and retailers who are shifting their gaze to the online world. As market researchers, we must also respond to meet the changing needs of businesses.
Shift in consumer behaviour
Consumers now interact with retail companies and brands through many different channels, such as smartphones and tablets, choosing whatever is most convenient for them wherever they are – whether on their daily commute or in the comfort of their own homes.
In the process, large volumes of data are generated and it is up to market researchers to tap into such information, enabling companies to better understand consumption patterns, preferences and attitudes.
A recent Toluna Omnibus study found that consumers now make more than one third of their purchases through a digital device. Those aged between 18 and 39 years make more than 13 per cent of purchases on their smartphones. This trend will continue to rise as a growing number of digitally savvy youths reach an age where they have earning and spending power.
Fast-paced e-commerce requires speedy results
E-commerce is moving at an alarmingly fast pace and competition is often fierce between companies. This has fuelled a need for consumer insights to be generated within days, or even hours, so that companies can make quick business decisions – a far cry from the weeks-long market research turnaround time of the past.
Hence, there is a growing urgency for market researchers like Toluna to develop new technology to quickly process data and generate the necessary analysis. This is especially the case in light of a recent trend where corporations turn to survey firms to produce market research results within 24 hours through short online questionnaires.
We have even begun to see the marketing and public relations departments of some companies circumventing their own internal research departments, just so they can generate the necessary results as fast as possible. In the past, our clients were more concerned with data representativeness, such as whether survey methods had been affected by bias. These days, speed is of the utmost priority for many companies, meaning we have to process data even more quickly.
Market research of the future
E-commerce has drastically changed consumer behaviour, and it will continue to do so in the years to come. With businesses constantly evolving in the digital age, those who do not adapt to such shifts will become irrelevant. The same is true for market researchers.
With consumers generating large volumes of data in the digital sphere, data collection must be paired with up-todate technology. This will enable companies to process information for brands and so better understand their customers. In order to stay competitive, it is up to us as market researchers to help brands do this as quickly as possible. This means constant innovation and greater automation, so that our clients will have the necessary tools to generate critical insights at their fingertips.