It was an opportune time to speak in front of marketing researchers during a Marketing and Opinion Research Society of the Philippines Inc. meeting as the profession is faced with shifts in consumer behavior, technology, data, and how companies and brands respond.
What will marketing research look like in 2030? The field involves the systematic gathering, recording and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data about issues relating to marketing products and services.
It’s important to peer into its future because it will affect how products and services evolve to meet customer needs.
To determine the possible future worlds of marketing research, we need to evaluate trends, signals, drivers, forecasts and artifacts. We examine consumer trends, technology shifts, the evolution of data, and how brands and companies are reacting.
One obvious shift is that by 2030, millennials (those born in the early 80s to the mid-90s) and Gen Z’ers (Generation Z) (born in the mid- to late 90s up to 2010) will dominate purchasing demographics. They are not only known for their need for personalized digital experiences but also for their environmental activism.
Based on the research by Fujitsu, there will be a radical shift in conventional values of buying and owning products. Instead, intangibles such as care for the environment, health and wellness will make up the majority of consumption. As a result, there will be less demand for today’s status brands.
Because both millennials and Gen Z’ers are tuned in to the protection of the environment, there will be increasing concern for social issues and rising awareness of social contribution, which will result in the greater desire for ethical products.
In parallel, technological advancements will usher in the rise of the internet of the senses. According to Ericsson Research, urban early adopters expect that we will be using all our senses online by 2030. The widespread use of wearables and Internet of Things devices, coupled with high-speed wireless internet, will allow consumers to use their minds, and the senses of smell, sight, taste, touch and sound for realistic experiences. Elon Musk’s Neuralink is already piloting the implantation of minuscule computer chips in human brains.
With the expected maturation of the metaverse, consumers will have individual avatars that transact and engage in a virtual world. And with large amounts of data being generated, we could have around 600 zettabytes, about 10 times more than today.
Companies and brands will respond by becoming more data-driven. They will create social networking services and analyze big data and other data-driven platforms to provide accountability across the enterprise and support decision-making. Retailers will create digital twins that will provide services to consumers with no distinction between the real and cyber. Retailers will focus on the personal consumer or customer, rather than mass, by providing accurate personal recommendations. Brands will enable their supply chains to be carbon-neutral to prove legitimate procurement, production and delivery that protect the environment.
With the confluence of these trends, forecasts and artifacts, what effects will they have on the future of marketing research? Marketing research firms and professionals will heavily rely on augmented reality and virtual reality tools for product concept testing, early stage product feasibility analysis and understanding consumer behavior.
Artificial intelligence will be commonplace to automate tasks, derive insights from large amounts of data and provide interactions using natural-language discussions with the aid of technology. They will be able to handle not only big data but also microdata as insights will be derived from minute behaviors of consumers.
Due to the highly emotive nature of social media, marketing research firms and professionals will rely on social listening platforms and qualitative research methodologies to better understand customer complaints, ideas and buying behaviors.
They will combine the capabilities of real-time research and agile market research, e.g., real-time data showing when a customer is looking for a product and survey data to help prioritize marketing efforts. This will be enabled by technology to provide a comprehensive perspective of a consumer’s past, present and future habits at the rate at which they change.
Lastly, sustainability will be the unique selling position of marketing research firms. Sustainable practices aligned to brands and consumers will also have business and brand benefits.
The author is the founder and CEO of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation consulting firm. He is a fellow at the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation and teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of De La Salle University. The author may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.