The market research industry will have a critical role to play in enabling brands in the wake of a gloomy economy in the post-Pandemic world. Brands must be able to rely on them to deliver relevant and actionable insights about changing consumer behaviour as well as sectoral changes, challenges, and opportunities.
Traditionally, market research agencies have relied on focused group interviews and sample surveys to understand consumers and deliver audience insights to brands. This primarily offline research was already falling short on innovation in an increasingly omni-channel world. With a far more intensified omni-channel behaviour during the COVID-19 lockdown – with many customers in the Asia Pacific region discovering online services, e-commerce, and OTT for the first time – market research agencies will have no choice but to mirror the platform-agnostic behavior of the consumers they evaluate and the brands they guide.
Real world intelligence will set the path for a new and improved market research approach
Market research agencies already have access to some of the most brilliant analytical minds, models, and tools of our generation. What they do need though is a fresh approach to data points itself. Moving from qualitative conversations with consumers and quantitative analyses, they will need to bring into view online and offline data points to truly glean actionable insights about the new omni-channel landscape and its consumers.
Real world intelligence – merging online and offline worlds of consumers – holds the answers to who these consumers really are. What apps they use, how they engage with online content, their reading habits, entertainment go-to, social media behaviour when combined with human mobility data will give researchers a whole new and holistic data playground.
Why human mobility?
Like we have always said at Lifesight, where people go says a lot about who they are. A one-hour qualitative focused group will not reveal the true nature, real lifestyles, and consumption habits of consumer segments as much as mobility data does. But human mobility data is not just about audience insights and segmentation. One of its more critical use cases is in predicting markets, business, and sector performance. It enables research agencies and consequently, brands in answering the questions that must be asked in the post-pandemic world –
- Are consumers still going to stores to buy their monthly groceries or have they moved to online grocery purchase?
- Can grocery chains use these insights for smarter site selection, optimizing store staff, or rethinking their physical footprint?
- What products do consumers now buy online and what do they keep for offline retail?
- Which physical locations still get more footfall traffic – Movie theaters, Malls, Restaurants? What kind of restaurants?
- Are consumers traveling more after the great lockdown of 2020?
- Which modes of transport makes them feel safer on the road in the new world?
- Does this hold any answers for OOH site selection?
- Can airlines or bus aggregators use these insights? How?
These questions just scratch the surface of all that is possible when research agencies take the leap to omni-channel data points that combine human mobility and online behaviours.
Market research has always answered the important questions. Are they equipped for the new ones that the post-pandemic world will open up?
Optimizing ROI across all cost-centers including market, operations, omnichannel footprint, winning back customers, and gaining competitive advantage will all be top of mind for brands in the post-pandemic and likely mid-recession world. How market research agencies enable them to navigate this flux and churn will differentiate the winners from the losers. Information advantage will be key and with real world data sets, market research agencies will be better equipped to do what they do best – delivering this information advantage for strong business outcomes.