In a recent blog post I wrote about identifying claims full of hype in market research. This got me thinking about evolutionary vs. revolutionary changes we’ve seen and how most really fall into the former.  Perhaps it’s no surprise given that all market research works to the same end  (i.e., gaining new knowledge) by largely the same means (i.e., gathering information from your target audience).

First, what is meant by evolution vs. revolution?  By evolution, I mean gradually improving what was done before whereas by revolution, I mean disruptive change or a completely new way of doing things.

I think most of the recent advancements fall under evolution…

  • Online qualitative? We’re moving from in person focus groups and interviews to ones done via webcam online.
  • Mobile surveys? Online surveys restructured for a smaller screen and shorter response.
  • DIY research? Same tools, new easier to use package.

Most often, evolutionary changes are marked with adapting a current research mode to new technology.  In the 90’s and early 2000’s research was transitioning to online.  Today we’re seeing the next leap to mobile.

Some companies are already participating neuromarketing efforts. Fast Companies highlighted six of them in recent article.

There are of course some changes that have the potential to be revolutionary, depending on how they are used.

  • Neuromarketing can help us gather information at a level respondents generally cannot respond at.
  • Big data – really the ability to collect and analyze it – allows new connections to be found.

Online listening and using social media for research could be seen as revolutionary, unless it is only being used to recruit for more traditional forms of market research, such as a survey.  Other developments, such as location based surveys could be seen as revolutionary or just an evolution of one of the oldest forms of surveying – the intercept.

What do you think? Are you seeing more evolution or revolution in market research?