The New Normal in Market Research

By Stephan Soine, Toluna

According to the latest GRIT (GreenBook Research Industry Trends) Report, reporting and charting software programs are among the most used technologies by market research clients, with 97 percent using data reporting programs. This widespread adoption means that market researchers want real-time access to insight, no matter their title, or how senior they may be.

Research professionals understand the need for real-time access, and they no longer want to wade through 50 pages of data or dozens of PowerPoint slides to absorb information. They want quick-access to insight, they want to understand what consumer think, and they want to help to tell the story that the data, or bring it to life for senior management.

While an in-depth report may be important at times, it doesn't always work for everyone, especially as information is. CEOs, CMOs and other top executives don't have time to comb through mountains of detailed analytics. And junior executives, who may be inclined toward DIY systems, also need to see and understand the story data is telling as quickly and easily as possible.

A researcher needs to be a good storyteller, clearly conveying the information the data has to offer, so a client can readily use it in decision-making. And these days, clients need to be able to see and absorb data faster than ever before to keep up with the shrinking window of opportunity in today's competitive, global marketplace.

And, just as clients need data faster and more easily digestible than ever, it has become harder than ever before to gather and synthesize the voluminous amount of data now available in so many forms and from so many sources. Without the proper tools and formats, it’s impossible to bring together all the available and relevant data in time to help clients solve pressing problems.

That's where data visualization comes in.

Telling a Compelling Visual Story

Ideally information that’s presented clearly in highly visual formats is:

  • Targeted to a specific audience to keep data relevant. For example, a CEO will need to see the full picture, while product managers, or regional managers will see data that’s been ring fenced, and may show more granular information that is intended to be actioned by the group. This is now very accomplished using automated reporting tools.
  • Visually appealing, without being too complex or "busy". It's important not to crowd the graphic with too much information. Use simple, visually appealing, yet effective charts. Don’t get too detailed with overly 'wordy' or descriptive paragraphs.
  • It should create a ‘visual path’ that a user will follow when going from section to section.
  • Use graphics when appropriate. Infographics are helpful, but not always necessary.

Easy-to-Use Tools, and a Smart Approach Make this Possible

Many analytics tools can help clients produce appealing, compelling and relevant graphics quickly and easily, further, more advanced and specialized programs can automate the creation of infographics, and word clouds for qualitative research. 

As windows of time decrease, and management understand the value of easily digestible information, clients will continue to demand easy access to the ever-increasing mountain of data out there, to make decisions more quickly than ever before. That will drive the need for more sophisticated, yet easy-to-use data visualization tools.


Stephan Soine is Managing Director D-A-CH, Toluna.


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