The long anticipated entry of Google into market research has got the industry talking. While e-commerce encroaches more and more on service industries, the question is how the market research industry will be affected by one of the world largest brands providing a low cost and fast solution to research. Will Google be the largest supplier of market research by 2020 and what does this mean to those researchers churning out PowerPoint charts for a living?
Based on the recent Asia Research annual survey of clients, less than one-in-five of corporations reject the idea of using Google Consumer Surveys and most (60%) state they will explore the option.
Already a third of clients in Singapore are undertaking DIY research, e.g. through Survey Monkey, and tend to be those clients undertaking research more frequently.
So what are the implications on the market research industry of this new technology?
Let’s just look at what Google’s promotional video says on their new survey tool…
“Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a local bike shop you’re success depends on understanding your customers…”
Through this statement, the industry now has one of the largest advocates of market research in the world that could potentially access the 360 million Internet users globally (including 100 million+ in Asia). It means that that even the smallest businesses, e.g. the local bike shop, will see the benefit of research. It means that when we reach out to the public to take part in research, more of them have a better idea of what market research is and of its benefits. And just maybe when the local bike shop becomes a mid-corporate (after using their DIY research to help grow their business), they might start doing qualitative research – something traditional research firms will be there to serve, although no doubt Google will look into it too!
We should not forget that it could be the agencies themselves who will be the main customers of Google Consumer Surveys. On-line research did not kill the research industry – on the contrary it gave us another tool to work with. But what is evident though is that the traditional model of Cost per Interview (CPI) revenue generation is going to have to change. The data collection part of projects (usually the majority investment of any project), will reduce and therefore the researcher’s ability to craft the right questions (in shorter surveys) and interpret the findings in more complex data sets will become the key value driver in the industry. Those organisations that have relied on the traditional network of field offices to win their business, and deliver data dumps in 200 slide presentation decks will have the most to lose.
Google Consumer Surveys – a friend or foe? A foe to some, a friend to the industry!