I just returned from the IIR Market Research Technology Event (TMRTE). These were three action-packed days of industry leaders delivering great insights on what’s important for the market research industry, as well as the challenges and opportunities that technology presents. It was a pleasure to meet and connect with so many thought leaders in market research. Here are three main themes I gathered from the event and what I think market researchers need to pay attention to:

  • Big data is here. Many of the presenters highlighted how intimidating the flood of digital data can be for market researchers. Christopher Frank from American Express and Paul Magnone from Openet say it’s like “Drinking from the Fire Hose.” But Stan Sthanunathan from Coca-Cola reminded us that big data is a reality — so we’d better embrace it or get left behind. As a result, market researchers will need to move from viewing technology as an enabler to viewing technology as a driver.
  • Integrating survey and behavioral data is powerful. A number of presenters showed how they leveraged both behavioral and survey data to come to richer insights. This is something that I talked about at the Forrester’s Marketing Leadership Forum last month, so it’s exciting for me to see how companies are doing this. My favorite example is how Christopher Jones from Zynga explained how his firm combined behavioral gaming data with NPS scores collected from quick pop-up surveys shown during games to figure out that level six got too hard too quickly in its popular Facebook game, Hidden Chronicles. (Average gaming satisfaction increased as gamers progressed from level to level — but dipped in level six.)
  • Behavioral economics has huge implications for market research. What a treat it was to see Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, explain why consumers are not always rational animals and tell several stories about experiments from his book showing that consumers don’t always understand why they do what they do, choose what they choose, or buy what they buy — hence the basis for behavioral economics. This has great implications for the field of market research, where we use surveys to ask consumers these questions. Jeffrey Henning from Affinnova followed up by explaining how market researchers can use discrete choice modeling to overcome some of these biases.

For those of you who attended the TMRTE conference — what did you think? What were the key themes for you?