By Cassidy Hoffman

I recently had the opportunity to attend ESOMAR Congress 2016 as a Future Talent Meets the Industry volunteer. In addition to meeting other students and professionals from around the world, volunteers are able to attend the various panels and discussions offered to ESOMAR delegates.

With over 60 programs held by industry experts over the three-day conference, there was a wide breadth of information to absorb. However, with the conference almost two weeks behind me now, there are three marketing research trends that have been stuck on my mind ever since learning about them at ESOMAR:

  1. Using Technology to Capture Implicit Responses

As researchers, we’re well aware of the fact that respondents are increasingly becoming more mobile. Participants are less likely to devote a significant amount of time to questionnaires, especially if they aren’t mobile-friendly. But designing your survey to fit a mobile platform isn’t enough; the design needs to be attention-grabbing and enjoyable so that respondents are encouraged to engage with the survey. In an effort to tap into this insight, researchers have adapted technology used in dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid; users respond to concepts presented by swiping to indicate their liking, and can respond to choices by tapping their preferred option.

Patricia Dominguez, Cori Deutch, Joyce van Heeswijk, Julia Görnandt, and Nijat Mammadbayli from SKIM presented their incorporation of this mobile-touch technology for a telecom study. The methodology proved to be just as interesting as the results of the study. This technology captures more than just the explicit choices from participants; it can measure reaction time and the swipe speed associated with each response, tapping into those implicit emotional reactions that are much more difficult to capture in traditional surveys.

  1. Using Technology to Capture Real-Time Experience Insights

Another obstacle presented in traditional survey design stems from the difficulty respondents have in accurately recalling past experiences. Does anyone actually remember how many advertisements she saw for X product, or how long it took to complete a task she did two weeks ago?

The airline industry is rather competitive, and experience insights can help airline companies set themselves apart. Thus, it’s becoming more important for these companies to acquire a deep and accurate understanding of how their customers experience their brands. At ESOMAR, two teams presented how they use technology to capture these insights. The first involved a collaboration between Annelies Verhaeghe, Farrell Styers, and Pieter De Vuyst from InSites Consulting and David van Dongen from SkyTeam International Airline Alliance. The presentation focused on the importance of a customer-centric approach to data collection, which not only was shown to increase engagement, but also customer satisfaction with the brand. What piqued my interest, though, was the technology used to conduct this methodology. Members of the SkyPriority panel use a mobile app that allows them to respond to questions about their experiences with SkyTeam in real-time; they can even upload photographs to better detail their journey.

Caroline Smiley from Delta and Catherine Rickwood from MESH presented on the importance of strategic data presentation, during which they touched on a methodology that proved to better measure the impact of brand experiences on consumers. Participants use their mobile devices to track any sort of experience (paid advertising, conversation with friends or family, social media posts, etc.) with a brand or category, and elaborate on their experiences through an online diary. This methodology helps to bridge the gap between experience and recall of experience; the online diary aspect adds a more qualitative layer of that experience, allowing the researchers to better understand the impact of each experience.

  1. Using Technology to Communicate with Images

People think in images; emotions are far better communicated through visual representation than words. Perhaps this is why the use of emojis has reached over 6 billion per day. In a fun and captivating presentation, Emma Kirk from Join the Dots explained how market researchers can use this visual language to improve understanding from survey responses. One of their technologies allows participants to express sentiments in response to ad concepts in real-time, allowing researchers to track what portions of their ad elicits the best or most intense emotional responses.

As a future market researcher, I can’t wait to experiment with the various technologies that are shaking up the industry. These types of technologies allow for improved experiences and better engagement among participants. They also present opportunities for companies to draw deeper understandings about their audiences. With all these tools at our fingertips, I’m extremely motivated to explore and contribute to their impacts on marketing research!

By Cassidy Hoffman, ESOMAR FTMI Participant Congress 2016