Everyone is talking about how ready they are for 2020 to be over, hanging hope on the New Year to bring some positivity and end this season of chaos. Our brains know that a simple change of the calendar won’t drastically change our reality, but the New Year has long been a symbol of renewal, refresh and resolutions for a better future.
Brands and organizations have leaned heavily on consumer insights as they seek to understand changing human behaviors and sentiments in the face of current events. Some experts predict that these “events” aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon, so it would behoove insights professionals to stay on their toes and continue to find new opportunities when it comes to understanding populations.
In a recent article in The Atlantic, historian Peter Turchin is interviewed. He says what’s happening right now comes as no surprise. In 2010, he warned that the “social and political trends portend an ‘age of discord,’ civil unrest and carnage” set to hit in 2020, and remaining in play until trends are reversed. While he cites several reasons for this tumultuous environment, the bottom line is that singing Auld Lang Syne at midnight on December 31 really won’t change much about the conditions of the world.
Yet, people have and will continue to adapt. It is these changes in behavior that make it an exciting time to be in market research. Never before has the industry seen such drastic changes in everything from the data being collected, to the insights being generated. Traditional demographics no longer fit into nice little categories, and data has increased potential of becoming fragmented and siloed, simply because so very much of it is coming at us from all directions. Researchers must be forward-thinking, agile and strategic in finding ways to understand people.
Some of the behaviors that individuals have developed over the past few months will be “sticky” and they will not go back to old ways of doing things (you know, way back from February of 2020). Many have discovered that there is a certain ease in conducting specific activities online, and will continue to take a digital path in the future. This means a vast amount of digital data that was previously unavailable can now be connected with more traditional qualitative and quantitative input, providing a more complete customer view. It is really up to insights professionals, with our first-hand relationships with consumers, to keep our finger on the pulse of these behaviors and help make predictions for the future.
2021 promises to bring a whole new set of changes as we start to see where things will shake out post-pandemic. We are already seeing “significant variance” among consumer groups as they react to the crisis and other current events. This is likely to widen divisions among audiences, demanding an even more granular understanding so that businesses can make better decisions.
The one thing we know for sure: we need efficient, effective and fast processes in place in order to bring the most important insights to the surface. This will require a deft marriage of human skill and technology, brought together in a way that enhances workflow – avoiding the common disruptions typical of implementing new systems. OfficeReports integrates directly into Microsoft Office, providing an intuitive, familiar interface to analyze and report on critical data, quickly.
So, while 2021 may not provide us instant relief from today’s challenges, market researchers can rise to the occasion by uncovering better ways to boost understanding of a consumer whose emotions, actions and priorities are in a continuous state of adaptation.