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3 ways tech is changing the face of research

Rawad Rahme
Research Consultant
Hall & Partners

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We’re currently living in an era where technology, the internet and social media are dominating and shaping the ever-changing behaviour of consumers. This isn’t anything new; tech has disrupted almost every major industry we can think of. I was at an ESOMAR conference in Dubai a few months ago and one thing stuck with me…

As researchers and marketers, we’re constantly having to adapt and innovate to meet changing consumer demand. So how have we as an industry infused technology with our methodologies, approach, and data collection techniques to cope with the changes? Of the trends discussed at the conference, there are three I’m most excited about:

1. The sophistication of facial recognition

We’ve reached a point where facial recognition software can identify micro-expressions and even measure the heart rate of participants by analysing pigments in the forehead. The amazing thing is that all of this can be done through the lens of your average smartphone front-facing camera. Consumers receive a link to an ad or a picture; their reaction is captured and later analysed to understand how they felt. It’s the combination of enhanced software and mobile that’s made using facial recognition more accessible.

2. Seeing through your consumers’ eyes

Traditional, explicit methods are limited because there’s no guarantee that a test subject's responses will be accurate. Implicit research, specifically eye tracking, offers the benefit of objective measurement. This type of research methodology lets you see how consumers react to different marketing messages, and understand their cognitive engagement, in real time. It minimises recall errors and the social desirability effect while revealing information conventional research methods normally miss. Eye tracking will help us as researchers identify the marketing elements that capture the ‘eye of the consumer’, revealing which parts of the communication consumers focus on, and which are ignored. Thus, we have a better understanding of what drives the decision-making process.

3. Analysing social chatter

Social listening has been on the radar of agencies for years, but can it help brands make better decisions? Agencies are coming up with algorithms to filter all the online comments regarding a certain brand, enabling the brand to fully gauge what’s being said about it on the internet. Both social media and person-to-person information-gathering have value, with social media listening rapidly becoming an important customer intelligence tool. There are several ways to use social media to gain insight including: monitoring online customer support forums; using software tools to gather comments from social outlets such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and encouraging customers to suggest new product features and vote on their favourites.

As pioneers of the latest technology, Hall & Partners already brings these innovative approaches to clients, partnered with more traditional methodologies and techniques. From my own experience, I’ve seen how clients embrace the adoption of technology as it provides them with greater, more rounded and nuanced insight of customer behaviour.

To survive in this volatile world we have to be agile – always innovating and staying ahead of the competition by embracing technology and infusing it into the way we work.