Ten trends for ten years of insight

1. Is an insight really an insight?

Years ago insights were heralded as the new dawn of research. An insight was borne out of a series of connections made from data and interpretation.

Of late the CRM industry is now adopting the term. The term ‘insight’ is popping up across sales and CRM platforms.

We believe there is an inherent danger here. A data insight (what someone did) could be confused for a real customer insight (why they did it).

CRM practitioners may argue data can tell you ‘the why’ – yes it can but only based on assumptions you make on where to look in that data.

2. Data democracy

Data is everywhere. Online tools allow client access to respondent conversations and data from anywhere. Software analysis tools enable clients to build their own graphs and charts.

This has both pluses and minuses. It is great for clients to access the data and shape it as they wish.

But equally this places pressure on internal teams not to mention on the researcher to deliver real insight.

3. What was meant not what was said

We hypothesize that the availability of data everywhere is changing expectations of what data tells you.

It is very easy to be distracted by what was said vs. what is the underlying truth.

Therefore researchers have to work harder to seek out that unspoken truth and ensure it is communicated to client teams.

4. Good enough is good enough

Good enough is good enough is an overarching theme driving the whole industry.

From Google Translate, automated transcriptions to ‘quick and dirty’ projects, direction rather than deep nuances suffice nowadays.

5. Variety is the spice of insight

Insight projects have undoubtedly become more complex. From pre-tasks to extended data capture across product usage cycles, projects are more multi-layered.

Similarly multidisciplinary approaches are on the table with increasing frequency. Researchers often pull in complementary skill sets from Semiotics and Behavioural Economics to enrich project findings.

6. Ne’r the twain shall meet – or shall they?

Clients want to be more directly involved with the research process. Therefore they will sit in on focus groups or interviews no longer as the ‘colleague’ but as the ‘client’.

Customers have ‘come of age’ and enjoy the dialogue. Clients may even carry out interviews themselves as research budgets get cut.

This has implications for the role of the researcher. As a result the onus is more on facilitating this connection and managing the conversation. It is about ensuring it is fruitful but not staged.

7. Individual speak not focus group speak

The demise of the focus group marches on. Individual feedback is ‘pure’ and not tainted by group speak.

Respondent ‘groupies’ have long been the bane of the focus group. But my argument is you can find them anywhere regardless of research format!

It also boils down to cost. The expense of a viewing facility and associated directs are just untenable nowadays.

8. Remote reigns

Online tools mean the value of ‘being there’ is gradually being eroded. Much is being done online via platforms or even that old fashioned device the telephone!

However for me being there still carries weight. That’s because you can really sense the atmosphere in a room. That speaks volumes!

9. In the moment

In situ data and respondent actions are really valuable nowadays. Mobile and various data capture platforms help this. They enrich data enormously by making it real rather than reportage.

10. Smaller but faster

Project size is diminishing as commercial pressures become more acute. Furthermore budgets stretch across more cost centres. This exacerbates the trend.

Business decisions need to be fast and so insight has to be fleet of foot. The time for in depth analysis has shrunk dramatically. This favours agency teams with senior members who can cut to the chase very quickly.


Are the rigid recruitment and participation definitions relevant for insight projects in our increasingly connected world?

For years, the research industry has used lifestage, age and geography as key criteria for defining a sample be it for qualitative and quantitative work. We ask ourselves in this article whether in an increasingly connected world this is relevant and what implications it has for insight practitioners.

The digital space is full of ways to connect by interest, behaviours or attitude. From Meet Up to the ubiquitous Facebook it has never been easier to ‘throw your hat into the ring’ and declare ‘this is me and what I am interested in’.

Age gap friendships are apparently flourishing according to Marianne Kavanagh, in a recent article in the Daily Telegraph, facilitated by social media.

Indeed, US commentator, Gina Pell, has coined these people ‘perennials’ to make it clear that using age as a differentiator is becoming outdated. ‘We comprise an inclusive, enduring mindset not a divisive demographic’. Around us we see collaborations across generations among musicians and artists who, in doing so, publicly signal the acceptability of age-gap friendships.

This raises the rather provocative question as to whether the socio-demographic divisions so favoured by the research industry actually make much sense anymore? Should we just rewrite the rulebook? Or is it a matter of prioritising what criteria should be considered first? And what does this mean for research projects going forward? Read more