4 market research trends shaping brand strategies

By Alexandra Pickel | March 8, 2018

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Research is playing an increasingly larger role in brand and marketing strategy, so it’s important we stay on top of trends and new technologies. That’s why I recently attended the Quirk’s Event in Brooklyn ⎯ a conference dedicated to all things market research ⎯ to meet with vendors, demo software, talk with peers, and listen to industry experts.

Here are four trends that marketers need to be aware of, and what they mean for B2B brands and marketing strategies.

1: Man vs. machine

Technology around market research is rapidly advancing. Digital behavior tracking, AI, and even neuroscience can provide real-time glimpses into audience behaviors, decision-making processes, and paths to purchase. But just because you can utilize these tools doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Keeping goals and objectives in focus remains the most crucial aspect of crafting an effective approach. Being clear on the goals the research needs to accomplish, the questions you want to answer, the perspectives you have to uncover, as well as the behavioral data already at your disposal, will help you be selective with the technology you need, if any. Knowing exactly how the insights will inform the brand or marketing strategy will help protect timelines and budgets, too.

2: More data, more depth

Marketers are already struggling with what to do with the abundance of research data and analytics at our fingertips… and yet more data keeps coming.

Don’t be daunted!

It’s important to remember that the point isn’t to indiscriminately gather every data point under the sun. Yes, there’s a responsibility to understand and then harness relevant data, but the real challenge is to identify the story within, and shape a narrative that offers direction to a brand or marketing initiative.

3: It’s not just a numbers game

Technology and data are only really there to help us understand what drives audiences to make the decisions they do. It’s the human behind the number that we’re trying to get to ⎯ uncovering their worldviews, emotions, and needs.

And B2B audiences are famously complex, with one purchase typically requiring approval from a mix of influencers, users and decision-makers ⎯ often disconnected from one another ⎯ all dealing with different pressures. So it’s easy to miss crucial subtleties and nuances when relying solely on numbers and quantitative sources.

For that reason, it’s still vital for marketers to have direct, open dialogue ⎯ like one-on-one interviews ⎯ which remains core to any B2B research. That’s where tone is conveyed, human connections are formed, and deeply insightful conversations about audience drivers can (and usually do) happen.

4: Stop, collaborate, and listen

Insights and analytics professionals have become integral to many organizations, with more and more companies investing in and growing internal departments to help inform business strategy.

So marketers now have more owned data and insight than ever before, and can increasingly utilize it to identify challenges the brand is facing, verticals or channels that need the most attention, and areas where outside agencies can help.

This trend has ushered in era of greater collaboration between internal and external research, with more data being understood, shared, and used to shape strategy.

Looking ahead

Market research is a more valuable resource for B2B brands than ever before ⎯ technology is bringing us closer to audiences, and businesses are integrating more insights and analytics to drive business growth. As an agency, we’re seeing more B2B companies reach out to us recognizing the value of research in informing brand and marketing efforts.

It’s our job to understand the new tech, embrace the data, learn fresh methods, and collaborate more. But to be truly effective marketers, it is crucial that we never lose sight of the overall strategy and goals.

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