Online Market Research Trends in 2007

With the increasing popularity of cell phones, caller id's and broadband internet technology, market researchers are quickly following consumers to the world wide web. For business owners, the struggle to stay in touch and reach out to consumers using traditional market research techniques is becoming increasingly more difficult.

With the increasing popularity of cell phones, caller id’s and broadband internet technology, market researchers are quickly following consumers to the world wide web. For business owners, the struggle to stay in touch and reach out to consumers using traditional market research techniques is becoming increasingly more difficult. To remain competitive, many are turning to the internet to locate their customers, to hammer down their preferences and to determine the effectiveness of their advertising.

As we move quickly into 2007, advances in technology continue to distance the retailer from the consumer; cell phones have replaced landlines and very few cell phone users paying for minutes are willing to spend any amount of time answering survey questions or opinion polls. Caller id’s on the existing landlines are making it more and more difficult for research firms to get consumers to pick up the phone and mail continues to be the slowest, most expensive and least productive form of market research available. With all of these factors being taken into consideration, businesses who are not moving their market research dollars online may very well be left in the dust.

As a business owner, however, how do you decide when to ditch your traditional marketing research techniques and move online? How do you determine which of your ads are generating the most revenue and how do you know how to present your products to the search savvy internet consumer?

A thorough understanding of consumer trends in 2007 and your current customer base is a good start. If your target market consists of college graduates, for example, you should know that the internet has quickly become the venue of choice among this population segment for media and entertainment. The “Y2M: eGrad College Graduate Survey” identified 80% of the responders as internet shoppers, effectively identifying a target market for clothing, travel related purchases, furniture and even health insurance. If you want to know what this group thinks, you’re not going to find them sitting at home next to their phone waiting to tell you. Another similar group are professional women.

A study conducted by The Media Audit identified that 94.3 % of the working women with incomes above $75,000 use the internet. Approximately 50% are heavy users. In contrast, within this same group, the effectiveness of traditional forms of market research continues to decline. If you’re spending marketing dollars on these women, they’ve got to be online, and it only makes sense, that if you want her opinion, that’s where you’re going to have to go to get it. Once you’ve identified whether or not your target research groups are internet users, you’ve got to figure out which online marketing technique will garner the most responses while obtaining the type of information you need. While large corporations traditionally shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to determine the preferences of their target markets, smaller companies with much smaller budgets can often manage to obtain the same type of results without breaking the bank.

In the past, telephone surveys and focus groups have been successful market research tools. In today’s society, however, they are quickly becoming obsolete. In 2007, response rates for telephone surveys that fifteen years ago could easily guarantee a 50% completion rate have dropped below 20%, and the audience that make up that 20% is far less varied than it was then. Although these surveys have not been abandoned completely, they are not providing the same quality of information that they have in the past and online market research techniques are definitely positioned to take up the slack.

In addition to providing a low cost method of testing new products with target markets, online surveys, ad tracking, and online focus groups can easily identify strengths and weaknesses of a marketing campaign and allow for quick adjustments. The increasing availability of broadband technology to consumers nationwide also help businesses target a much wider variety of consumer groups than ever before. In addition, online market research tools are providing a much faster turnaround on results than traditional research methods. In 2007, we are going to see an increase in the number of companies moving to online market research techniques. While the industry will continue to evolve and the development of additional methods will no doubt begin to appear, the most popular and most effective will continue to be email and web page surveys, online focus groups and “cookies”.

Cookies are typically installed on the user’s computer when they visit a website. This tracking device allows the site to then create online profiles that can reveal customer’s purchasing habits, advertisement click through rate and how long a user stays on a particular page. As this type of research becomes more popular, companies specializing in it’s methods are also on the rise. While many business owners can utilize many software tools designed to help them conduct their own online market research, many others will realize the value of hiring a company to do the work for them.

Copyright © 2007 Jude Bayley