Predicted Market Research Trends for 2017

Market Research Team_350-1.jpgWhat market research trends should you expect to see in 2017? This blog post shares different perspectives from a wide variety of market research professionals, suppliers, and executives in the field.

Check out the quotes below to find out more about what the future may hold for market researchers and the industry as a whole.

For a more current  view, see our latest article on predicted market research trends for 2022.

Acceleration of Technological Changes

“The one thing we can all expect to happen in the market research field in 2017 is an acceleration of the technological trends that are ceaselessly impacting market research work. Simultaneously, the industry will struggle ever more with how to implement and handle all of its latest research possibilities.”

— Bob Lederer, Publisher, Editor & Producer, RFL Communications

Increasing Need for Research Amidst Global Uncertainty

“2017 will be a boom year for market research, given the level of macro, political, monetary, and economic uncertainty across the globe. Companies are going to see tremendous and often unforeseen shifts in their business. Leaders will engage strong primary and secondary research firms to objectively understand the drivers of their evolving customer, competitive, supply chain, and macro dynamics.”

— Joe Newsum, Founder, Kentley Insights 

Growth of Automation and Artificial Intelligence

“The big trend in 2017 is going to be automation. Things are going to get faster, cheaper, and more standardized — with a side order of AI chasing it.”

— Ray Poynter, Managing Director of The Future Place and Founder of NewMR

Need for Concise Findings and a Clear Point of View

“With both clients and colleagues, I see a renewed emphasis on our need as researchers to consolidate/interpret data and communicate to senior leaders only the core set of issues that really need to be addressed. With more data available to us nearly every day, the emphasis on conciseness and clarity is rapidly growing. Today, we find ourselves in the ‘water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink’ scenario, but there seems to be a major shift in client/leader expectations for us as researchers to expertly simplify and consolidate the data for them. This is easier said than done. Whether we’re talking about ‘big data’ or a year’s worth of research studies, finding ways to synthesize and position for senior management consumption has proven difficult for researchers. Part of the challenge is that we as researchers are trained in research — not communication. We tend to expand upon findings and flash numbers/trends — when senior management wants concise direction and a clear point of view. Fortunately, I am seeing improvement and some momentum on the part of researchers. Throughout the industry, there is a bias toward more storytelling, less “researchy” presentations, and tools like dashboards that are providing initial dents into this issue. I fully expect to see more emphasis here from clients and the research industry as a whole.”

Dave Santee, Founder and President, True North Insights

Human Filtering Combined with Automated Market Research

“The soaring growth of big data and related tools will drive the implementation of exciting new reports and platforms based on automated market research. That is, there is a growing trove of data available, through data mining, online surveying (as opposed to telephones), analysis of social media activity, and crawling the internet. So much so that automated software, carefully fine-tuned to suit specific market research needs, is the only way to take full advantage of the data options available. Research firms that are capable of seeing the possibilities and developing the software tools to capitalize on them will deliver exciting new market research options. However, the best and most reliable research products will put a layer of human filtering and analysis on top of algorithm-driven data, in order to weed out bad results, deliver value-added analysis, and convey the meaning of data points that seem to be outliers or anomalies.”

Jack W. Plunkett, CEO, Plunkett Research

Growing Demand for Desk Research

“We expect desk research to be more demanded and robust on results than ever in 2017 for three reasons. First, as the focus of marketers has ultimately shifted to digital, desk research methods provide a way of synthesizing various insights into behavior of the connected consumer and capturing the key market trends. Secondly, in view of economic stagnation predicted for many advanced economies around the world in 2017, businesses will search for more cost-effective ways of doing or sourcing research, giving desk research a competitive edge over other approaches. Lastly, the availability of published information has increased immensely over the past several years, presenting an opportunity for desk research professionals focused on specific areas of expertise.”

Tatiana Teplova, Head of Research Department,

Qualitative Research That Can Answer "the Why"

“Over the last several years, the market research industry has been focused on ‘big data,’ using quantitative data to try to target the specific needs of the customers. But all that emphasis on quantitative data can’t provide any perspective on the future market, future opportunities, and future needs of the customers. Big data tells about the past, which is important, but can’t predict the future. Today, more and more companies are realizing the failures of big data, so that the big market research trend for 2017 and beyond will be qualitative market research where we can uncover new needs, new insights, new opportunities that will guide innovation. Big data answers the who, what, where, and when, but only qualitative market research can answer the why — why people shop and why people buy — and that is where the future lies for market research.”

Pam Danziger, Speaker, Author, Market Researcher, Unity Marketing

Desire for Accurate Research, Not Canned Solutions

"Baring (God forbid!) economic or political calamity, I would expect 2017 to be very much like 2016. I do sense a growing realization among buyers of marketing research, however, that MR is more than software and assembly-line operations. If you can get an answer within a few hours at low cost... and the answer is way off the mark, it's not an answer, and this fast, inexpensive ‘solution’ could prove very costly. Marketing research is research, grounded in the behavioral and social science, and not software or canned solutions."

Kevin Gray, President, Cannon Gray LLC

A Move Away from Artifice Toward Realism

“In 2017, I expect to see increasing reliance on observation of hard behavioral data and less reliance on constructed interrogations (whether onerous survey scales or qualitative discussion guides). 

Specifically, I expect to see:

  • Increased use of passively collected biomarkers (face, voice, eyes, posture, skin, heart, brainwaves) to gauge consumer response instead of direct questioning.
  • Increased use of social media analytics to detect sentiment, passion, and thematic content.
  • A long overdue shift away from 30-40 minute questionnaires to shorter, smarter, mobile-friendly surveys that are delivered in the moment (triggered by geo-location or other passively collected triggers).

Reality rules in 2017 and beyond."

Jeremy Pincus, Ph.D., Director, Research & Strategy, Isobar

Market Research as a Continuous Dialogue

“2017 will be the year we stop thinking about market insights in terms of market research projects, and instead, build continuous dialogues with our key stakeholders. There’s still too much friction in the process of obtaining needed information. We’ll see far greater application of new technologies like mobile, social, automation, and analytics because their simplicity and time-savings is just so compelling. They’ll make it even easier to have direct relationships with target constituencies, engagement that these communities often crave, and dramatically streamline time to insights so the right information can drive important decisions at the speed of business today.”

Diane Hayes, President and Co-founder, InCrowd

Demand for Research That Predicts Business Results

“We’ve increasingly seen our clients ask for market research that ties customer attitudes and behaviors to real financial performance of their company. I foresee this request becoming more of a requirement over time. Tools such as text analysis of customer reviews, actual store traffic, and in-the-moment research will be useful only if they actually predict financial outcomes. Our recent presidential election has shown that surveys don’t always synch with real world results and marketers can’t afford this luxury. They need market research that can truly predict their business results.”

Anne E. Beall, Ph.D., CEO, Beall Research, Inc.

Increasing Use of Online Reporting Tools

“One market research trend we expect to see in 2017 is the increased demand by management for providers of insights and analytics to deliver concise recommendations that are more visually compelling. As such, we’ll see an increased use of online reporting, which will require the evolution of skill sets by data practitioners for use with tools that are deployed. Simultaneously, we’ll see the decreased usage of traditional, labor-heavy data analysis and reporting tools (e.g. SPSS, Excel, PowerPoint) because better efficiencies are provided by digital platforms/business intelligence tools.”

Rudy Nadilo, President North America, Dapresy

A Focus on the Personal Dimension

“When it comes to seeing in 3-D, two eyes are better than one. So, while employing technology to gather more data on consumers, truly savvy marketers will also strategically deploy qualitative research, including behavioral science, in order to:

  1. Better observe the real behaviors of our consumers;
  2. Experience the real-world conditions in which products/services are used;
  3. Tap into the consumers’ mindset, values, interests, and beliefs;
  4. Reflect the consumers’ own stories back to them; and
  5. Ultimately, create a culture of empathy with them.

I see marketers who truly want to understand the critical ‘why’ behind all the data digging deeper and getting to the personal dimension so that they can act with impact.”

Kelley Styring, Principal and Founder, InsightFarm

A Strong Shift to Empathy Building

"From a qualitative perspective, we are seeing a strong shift to empathy building through more meaningful engagements. Clients are trying to get to know their consumers and use that to inspire and inform innovations and communication. Methods include in-context ethnography, co-creation and immersion sessions with more opportunity for consumer interaction."

Rob Volpe, Founder and CEO, Ignite 360

Research That Keeps Pace with Product Development

“The driving force in research in 2017 is going to be the continued relentless move toward faster/better/cheaper research. As C-suite executives push for faster, more collaborative, and rapid-iteration product development, research must fit into that realm. It will move away from big, expensive studies that seek a definitive answer toward a more Bayesian approach that tackles small problems and answers ‘are we on the right track?’”

Kent Stones, CEO, Stones Insight

Now It's Your Turn...

Please share your point of view. We'd welcome your input in the comments section below.

For an updated view of the market research industry, see our newest article "The Critical Role of Market Research in 2021: Experts Weigh In."

Curious to see how these predictions compare to the past? Take a look at the market research trends we published last year in January 2016. 

In addition, download's free white paper on the importance of market research to learn more strategic insights.

The Importance of Market Research for Validation and Decision Making

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About the Author: Sarah Schmidt is a Managing Editor at, a leading provider of global market intelligence products and services.

Topics: Market Research Strategy