2024 Predictions for The Insights Industry

We asked our MRII Board Members to share their thoughts about what 2024 might bring to our industry. Undoubtedly, artificial intelligence will maintain its expanding influence during the coming year. Also, there may be an increased emphasis on improving sample quality and better ways to do research and analytics. The impending election year in 2024 will add an extra layer of complexity, drawing attention to both our successes and areas for improvement in the realm of insights. Let’s see what our experts have to say about 2024:

From Paul Hunter, Professor at Miami University and President of MRII

  • It’s a presidential election year coming up. It will be ugly. It always is regardless of who is running. However, from an insights industry perspective, we will continue to hear of flawed polls, as well as flawed and outdated methodology (such as landline phones). Market research takes its roots from political polling in the 1700s, but needs to continue to evolve with better methods that keep pace with the times 300+ years on.
  • Of course, generative AI will continue to be the buzz. How it impacts market research remains to be seen, but it definitely is impacting marketing on many fronts like copywriting and content creation. In 2024, this will continue to be a hot topic.
  • The economy will also continue to impact 2024. There seem to be only signs of weakness on the horizon—but 2024 could hold some bright spots out there. I suspect businesses will continue to rely upon market research, perhaps only more, for work on pricing and innovation in the face of continued economic concerns.
  • Behavioral and attitudinal data—in 2024, the fusion of these data sources will only grow in our digital economy, and we will see new tools and new suppliers. As a result, precision sampling and incidence rates will only continue to increase.

From Jon Last, President, Sports & Leisure Research Group

  • 2024 is shaping up to be a potentially tumultuous year from a consumer behavior and attitudinal perspective. The election climate and economic instability will feed a dual consumer reaction where some continue to spend, counterintuitively, towards escape oriented actualization—while others hunker down amidst a variety of sensationalistic and apocalyptic anxiousness.  Finding reliable insights to cut through these dueling forces will be critical, but also heavily scrutinized by those who don’t agree with the implications. The ability to produce “nationally projectable” results and stories will have diminished utility given segment specific and hyper-local variations in today’s world.
  • In 2024, we will likely continue to see lots of MR firms rally around both the real and exaggerated immediate benefits of AI. The industry will need to see past the smoke and mirrors and find the most relevant applications. This will not be easy, and tech first solutions will continue to pose the threat of marginalizing critical elements of the MR value chain. Firms with category/vertical specific expertise will add value beyond those functions that are threatened with greater commoditization. Those that increasingly blur the lines between consulting and research will have the greatest success.
  • Sampling quality will continue to be a big issue in the coming year that will push forward-thinking suppliers towards leveraging and building and actively managing specialized house files and sample sources that can fly above the exchanges. Also, as behavioral and attitudinal data continue to be merged for valuable insights, the qualitative market will remain a strong adjunct for those in search of the “why” that remains impervious to many of the tech infused shortcuts that can compromise profit margins.
  • From our firm’s perspective, we are projecting a meaningful upside attributable to some significant new and already contracted, large initiatives that will scale in 2024, coupled with continued higher stakes at play in our verticals, requiring greater insights driven direction. Competition remains intense but leadership transitions at two key rivals will make these firms vulnerable to our increasing share among joint clients.

From Anthony Jackel, Director, Consumer Analytics at Ferrara

  • The big focus I have as we head into 2024 is all about how our teams can better use technology to enhance their effectiveness and impact. Sometimes I find that a lot of day-to-day tasks/requests are quite mindless and even mind-numbing… I always say to my teams we need ways to spend less time pulling data and more time pivoting to the insights from the data. I feel that recently everyone has defaulted to AI in this space. However, I don’t think the bar needs to be some next level Generative AI solution that does all your work for you, but instead I want our team to find solutions that help streamline existing processes and create the space to have greater strategic impact once given time back in their day to think and dream.

From Stephanie Hutchison, Sr. Manager, Strategic Market Research at Blue Cross Blue Shield

  • What would you do with an extra 3 hours a day? In 2024, we will continue to see AI is raising a concern of replacing humans in many industries, but for the Market Research industry it can take on a different evolution. The use of AI to understand previous research and the market landscape can reduce time spent on developing those resources and background documents. As we move into the future, this AI-time savings can be leveraged to develop stronger human connection with (internal and external) clients, provide complex analysis and elevate insights.

From Brian Lamar, CIO at EMI – Research Solutions

  • As we look to the new year, the insights industry stands at a thrilling place—having integrated innovation and accepting artificial intelligence. This is revolutionizing our ability to optimize efficiencies and enhance data utilization like never before. Success will favor those who skillfully blend these approaches with tried-and-true research methods, ensuring that our clients make the most informed and effective decisions. “Empowering decision-making with a blend of intuition and intellect.” -via ChatGPT

From Charlie Farr, Senior Principal Team Leader at Chick-Fil-A   

  • What I see coming in the year ahead includes a continuing focus on leveraging AI to supplement research for questionnaire design, background research, data quality, analysis, and more. There is so much that can be done here to supplement our thinking, but AI is not yet to a place where it can replace our thinking by any means. As an industry, we should be using AI to make us better with a growth mindset, not throwing rocks at it because it’s far from perfect.
  • We also need to continue to integrate with other analytical disciplines in 2024. The best insights to help drive business results are holistic in nature, and insights leaders of the future must be able to seamlessly represent and integrate insights from multiple disciplines.
  • In 2024, we also need to focus on sharing insights beyond the PowerPoint. From my view, I’m seeing that the market research industry has moved beyond the stereotypical 100 slide market research deck by creating highly visual decks. But this has come at a cost, because we are spending so much time making 10-20 slide decks as beautiful as possible that it is reducing our impact due to increased timelines to do so. I think written, verbal, and visual communication via hyper focused decks could be a huge opportunity in the future. 

From Dan Foreman, Director of hatted

  • The future of the insights industry is a regal affair, akin to unwrapping a Fortnum & Mason hamper fit for royalty, filled with opulent treasures. Just as Fortnum & Mason’s hampers have graced the tables of kings and queens, the insights industry holds knowledge and wisdom worthy of the highest esteem. Market trends and consumer behavior are the jewels in our crown, and each insight is a gem to adorn our royal path to success. So, let us don our finest regalia, raise a golden chalice, and bask in the grandeur of insights, making the future a majestic coronation of discovery and prosperity, where every revelation is a royal decree.

From Roddy Knowles, Consultant

  • Conversations around data quality will increase in frequency and importance as the industry grapples with increased fraud and buyers of all types demand accountability.
  • AI will take/maintain center stage as an accelerant across all stages of the research process alongside rapid development of synthetic sample/audiences (which the industry needs to rename!), bringing AI further into the mainstream.
  • As budgets (hopefully) open up again in the back half of 2024, buyers will be more judicious about which partners to engage with and suppliers should not expect that business should come back to them (and not someone else). Buyers will remember who stuck with and supported them during the downtrend and maintaining relationships, even if currently stagnant, remains critical.

The coming year looks like it will continue to bring  a good amount of change to our doorstep. So how is an insights professional to keep up? Invest in professional development and educatio

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