2017 Trends to Watch if You’re Doing Life Science Market Research
By Cobble Hill

Depending on what kind of market research you practiced in 2016, it was either a great year, or a very bad year. Election and political pollsters, for example, will likely have a reckoning and a few heads might even roll.

But in the life sciences market research space, 2016 was a year of more innovation using mobile technologies, and an increasing awareness of the value highly targeted and “micro” market research brings.

For several years, InCrowd has had a front row seat in driving innovation and understanding which technologies are buzz-worthy and which are showing long-term promise.

In 2016, some of the most meaty innovation trends were around automation, social media listening, and big data.

So what are the possibilities in store for 2017? I sat down with our CTO Tom Lancaster to look into the future. Here are our predictions: 

  1. Qualitative Research. There is a big, big opportunity to innovate around qualitative research methods, and we expect to see the beginnings of this innovation in 2017.

    Traditional, in-person qual methods have remained unchanged for decades, and the most recent GRIT report finds that 46 percent of researchers still use in-person focus groups. The next in line is online focus groups – at 14 percent, followed by telephone in-depth interviews – at 11 percent.

    This is in part because new, emerging technologies for qual simply do not exist yet. But we will soon see the mobile and automation revolution in the quant space happen for qual as well.
  2. Microsurveys. This is the year microsurveys will rise above being simpler, faster versions of professional surveys. In 2017, microsurveys will see a higher level of sophistication and question types and formats that respondents have come to enjoy – and that researchers rely on.Of late, “micro” and “automation” have been used to just provide mobile, real-time surveys without added layers of rigor and methodology. 2017 will see them become faster and more rigorous in terms of their data capture and analysis capabilities.Market research is a two-sided activity: researchers and respondents. Only respondents, however, care about the “micro” aspect. For researchers, microsurveys can and should be as complex as they need it to be. So we will see micro methodology evolving to give clients more high-quality data faster, which respondents continue to see an even better “micro” experience that enables this high quality data.
  3. Integrated Data. It’s not helpful to say “big data” anymore, as the term is so watered down and it’s become more productive to understand what aspects of a large data stream can be put to use.
    Integrated data means mixing primary data with non-primary, third-party data. For example, combining primary quantitative microsurvey data with social media listening, and/or prescriber data. The latest GRIT report cited 57 percent of researchers reporting the use of such “integrated data sets.” Web analytics, internal business intelligence, and other appended data can all be folded into this more useful variation of “big data” we will see in 2017.
  4. Targeted Automation. Automation is here to stay. In fact, one can say it’s now the price of entry. According to predictions by market research guru and NewMR founder Ray Poynter, “automation is going to underpin most success stories over the next few years.”In 2017, automation in life sciences market research will continue to rise above an “automate everything” paradigm to one that is even more smart and effective at taking out the drudgery and legwork of the time-consuming tasks.
    We like to think of this as “automation with purpose” – where we’re not just throwing bots out there to capture whatever we can, but rather, we’re targeting people who we know will add value. 2017 will see more investments and advancements in this space, especially around how machine learning and automation can take over executive function skills like decision-making – the holy grail of machine learning!
  5. Blended research methodologies. This is something very few people are talking about, but something here at InCrowd that we are really excited to build. This is when quant meets qual and vice versa, so a tighter integration of these two separate things. It is starting to happen with video question that capture a longer answer or emotion being inserted into a quant survey, and the technology and capability for such crossover usage will grow in 2017.
    At InCrowd, with both our Microsurvey (quant) and MicroQual survey applications now running in the same platform, we see the possibilities as endless. Imagine this: You launch a short microsurvey in a platform that is concurrently but separately running your qual survey. Based on an answer in the quant microsurvey, a respondent is seamlessly pushed into a parallel qual survey room in which a live moderator is waiting for them. They answer a few live questions, and then are returned to where they left off on their quant survey.

These are just a few of the big ideas we’re following, and that are getting us excited for 2017!

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