The Versta Crystal Ball: Research Trends in 2017

I hope the recent presidential election didn’t squash your belief that smart researchers can discern patterns in our collective social lives, and that we can make decent (if limited) predictions about what’s to come. Because here we go—Versta Research is going to make a few modest predictions about where market research is headed in 2017.

The overarching theme of our predictions this year is that none of them sound like research at all. Instead, they are about bringing other modes of thinking into our enterprise. Or, putting it the other way around: they are about extending our skills and influence into functional areas that need what we offer.

  1. More focus on design thinking. Over the last twelve months, roughly a quarter of our clients have asked for research that includes or is driven by specialists in design. The focus is often on innovation, journey mapping, or persona development, the goal being to understand “through direct observation, what people want and need in their lives and what they like or dislike about the way particular products are made, packaged, marketed, sold, and supported.”

    Not long ago we wrote a short piece, Design Thinking Invades Market Research, and we expect to see a lot more of this invasion in the year to come.

  1. More collaboration with strategists. Who are these clients who keep drafting suggestions for a survey as gigantic grids that look like side-by-side online product comparison charts? I discovered the answer a few years back. They’re called strategists. Sometimes they work in research groups, but more often they work in business units. One thing they do is figure out how research and data can help them answer strategic business questions.

    It takes some adjustment and getting to know each other (see When Strategists Write Questionnaires) but in 2017 we expect the romance to blossom with more collaboration between researchers and strategists in many more types of organizations.

  1. More focus on communications. We have yet to see many of our clients and colleagues at other firms using infographics to communicate research findings. But in the three years since we published a feature article (and a subsequent top-read Quirk’s article of 2014) on How to Make Spectacular Infographics, we get requests to present on this topic all the time.

    What we have learned is that not everybody is looking for infographics per se, but rather new ways of thinking and presenting information so that their research gets heard and used. It is a trend that is not going away. In 2017 we expect more researchers will be asking us to help them elevate, simplify, and jazz up how they report findings to their audiences.

Hmmm, looking into our crystal ball, what else do we see? We see ourselves doing lots more work and collaboration with you, our valued clients, who care about making research in 2017 the most productive, insightful, and successful it can be.

Happy New Year!

By Joe Hopper, Ph.D.

Versta Research Website

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