6 digital trends shaping consumer insights

A headshot of David Garnder.

by David Gardner

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In recent years, there have been several instances where polls that tried to predict the outcomes of elections turned out to be completely off the mark. After the election results were posted, the polling companies were questioned about their tactics - and they couldn’t immediately explain what went wrong. How could they get the results wrong if they employed the same polling process that has always worked for them in the past?

For example, during the last municipal elections in our home city of Calgary, a prominent polling firm consistently predicted a completely different election result. After the election they had to apologize and admit that they weren’t able to reach all types of voters at any point of their polling. They had missed part of the picture.

There are a lot of parallels between this scenario and the current state of consumer insights.

Today, traditional market research may not be showing organizations the complete picture when it comes to their customers. Surveys and focus groups no longer make up the bulk of research activities - and that holds true regardless of whether you’re selling in brick and mortar or online. Digital technologies are shaping the expectations of consumers.

Read Next: Market research vs Shopper Insights: Which fuels innovation?

Here are six trends to pay attention to in order to keep on top of your customer’s needs, and better manage your own consumer insights research:

1. Insight Teams Becoming Leaner in Organizations

Organizations are increasingly adopting lean principles, and teams are becoming leaner too - insight teams are no exception. Also, thanks to the internet, any business can achieve a wider reach with digital technology. With lean teams, we are having to do more with fewer people. Adopting digital technologies like CRMs and automation into your marketing and sales activities can help your organization gather data from every interaction the public has with your brand.

Armed with this data, your insights team can better identify potential customers, as well as who your most valuable customers are, what they respond well to, and what they expect from your organization.

Basically, you will not have to market to an unknown audience. Rather, the data gathered through your digital tools can lay the foundation for your insight teams, giving them a head start. Today’s insight teams no longer live in a silo. Because of new digital tools, they are now able to work across marketing, innovation, sales, and operations.

2. Finding New Business Opportunities with Social Insights

Social listening is a fairly new tool that organizations are starting to adopt as part of their insights activities. Where old market research used to necessitate taking polls over the phone because most households had one, nowadays, most people have at least one social media account that can be monitored at the organization’s convenience. And they’re most likely using it to talk about brands they truly love (or sometimes, brands they’re not quite so happy with) online.

Related Read: 7 community management tips for better customer insights

Social listening tools allow your insights team to monitor social media conversations whether they are about your brand or your competitors. Insights teams can also find people who are talking about their brand and see what else they are interested in. If these users have shared interests that are in line with your brand, you may be able to find new business opportunities.

3. Building Co-Creation Communities for Breakthrough Insights

Traditional market research is a one-way street. After the market research project has been completed, insight teams would normally have to work off of the data gathered and then make inferences that may not always be accurate. While insights communities allow organizations to have a direct line with their customers, and allow for the consumer perspective to enter the decision-making process early on, most insight communities aren’t really communities at all. Many still rely on surveying its “members” in silos and often collect the same data points over and over again.

This is where co-creative communities come in. They take what insights communities have always promised, but then truly deliver on both the insights and crowdsourced ideas needed to innovate.

Download our free eBook "The CINO"s Guide to Open Innovation" to leverage the latest consumer insights trends for collaborative innovation

Having a co-creative brand community means having access to a dedicated, engaged audience who have a clear interest in your brand and want to not only provide feedback and input, but also help design solutions directly with your employees.

The members get to participate in a wide-variety of activities, both creative and research-driven. And it’s this variety, which may include an innovation challenge or polls, quizzes and more visual-based ones, such as photo pickers and choose & rank activities, which boosts longer-term engagement. All of which deliver not only the types of insights needed, but also the ideas and creativity from participants to really fuel innovation.

Co-creative communities also differ from siloed “insights” communities as real connections and relationships begin to form among community members - all around their love and passion for the brand. Much like the social listening trend mentioned above, insight teams can begin to observe and monitor discussions among members to uncover everything from unmet consumer needs to new product uses. They also have an incredible source of potential marketing content to leverage by making the community more social and collaborative.

4. Machine-Learning/AI Powered/Automated Consumer Insights

As previously mentioned, new digital tools are most likely already being used by your sales and marketing teams to learn more about current and prospective clients. These tools amass massive amounts of data - sometimes too much data to sort through.

Luckily these same digital tools often have AI or machine-learning powered capabilities that allow technology to wade through data for you and find relevant consumer insights. These tools allow organizations to gather valuable insights and act upon them in real time.

5. Sentiment & Emotion Analysis for Unstructured Feedback

Does your organization use calls or text conversations? Or are you already employing social listening tools that are monitoring platforms for mentions of your brand?

Machine learning tools can take this data and provide sentiment and emotion analysis, which is especially important for organizations that receive this type of data on a massive scale. Recognizing how your customers are feeling when they interact with your brand can then help you predict opportunities and plan for how to best interpret and react to these scenarios.

6. Using Image Analysis to Uncover New Consumer Insights

If your organization offers an app that uses a camera, you are also able to draw further insights through Image Analysis. Deep learning technologies can draw meaningful information from images. Companies have used Image Analysis on social media posts on Instagram and Snapchat, for example, to find influencers who have taken photos of their products, and look into the types of audiences these influencers attract.

In this competitive landscape, there are only so many chances to get it right with your customers. By recognizing these 6 digital trends and finding ways to integrate them into your consumer insights activities, your organization can better anticipate the needs and wants of your customer, and react on insights quicker.

The ultimate goal of modern-day consumer insights is to deliver as much of a personalized experience as possible, not only with prospective customers but also to your current ones, so that they keep coming back and they recommend your brand to their friends.

Satisfied customers are also more likely to become fans, and then superconsumers, who become valuable resources to consumer insights teams because they become more engaged and more willing to participate and co-create with your brand. Integrating these 6 practices can help you capture the full picture and avoid missed opportunities to leverage consumer insights.

Learn how Chaordix's Participation platform supports both product innovation and customer insights teams. 

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