Are you ‘wait and see’ or ‘learn and succeed’?

I received a survey the other day and it wasn’t mobile optimised. Needless to say, I didn’t complete it, but it got me thinking. As an industry how can we let this happen? The technology is readily available to provide at least a mobile friendly experience.

The latest GRIT report revealed that still only 65% of clients are using mobile surveys1. Ok, implementation on any scale takes time and resources but it’s never been easier to do this. The importance of providing a good respondent experience should be higher on the list. We need to consider this not only for the impact it may have on our project, but also on the reputation of research and the willingness of respondents to participate in any form of feedback in the future.

Mobile optimisation is just one example of where some in the industry treat this as second nature and have done for years, whereas others seem to be lagging behind. Reading the latest GRIT report I was intrigued. There has been positive movement within emerging techniques such as mobile qual and webcam-based interviews, but as an industry are we too slow to achieve mainstream adoption?

Selection of emerging methods in use wave-to-wave change taken from GRIT report1


Q1-Q2 2014 Q1-Q2 2015 Q3-Q4 2015 Q1-Q2 2016 Q3-Q4 2016


Mobile surveys

64% 67% 68% 74% 75% 11%
Text analytics


38% 38% 45% 46% 6%

Webcam-based interviews

34% 38% 33% 42% 43% 9%

Mobile qualitative

37% 43% 34% 44% 42%


Mobile ethnography

30% 35% 31% 34% 33%


Facial analysis

18% 17% 18% 22% 24%


We appear, on the whole, to be behind the curve when it comes to the pace of change around us, from consumers, businesses and technology. The ‘wait and see’ approach means that only some are benefiting from the latest technology out there.

We all know that to execute good research and deliver quality insight we need to have some basics in place. This includes ensuring the robustness of research, thinking about things such as the representativeness of the sample, questionnaire design or the quality of the moderator. However, once we tick these boxes it should open-up the opportunities to try different techniques and engage with respondents in new and exciting ways.

We operate in a world on instant gratification with an ever-increasing demand on speed. AI and machine learning can certainly help to quicken analysis and interpretation. However, there is still the need for the human touch. The term ‘death by PowerPoint’ unfortunately exists for a reason. Research should challenge and inspire.  We need to make insight meaningful, tell great stories and be passionate about what we do, which machines can’t replicate (yet!).

My experience representing an ‘emerging technology’ in the form of video research has given me a unique insight into spectrum of acceptance of new techniques within the industry. Of course, there are agencies and brands pushing the boundaries, reaping the benefits of utilising the latest technology to get to insights more effectively and efficiently than ever before. We have seen that those ready to take the leap are capitalising on the technology available. However, there are still those who are more cautious, despite the demands that exist and the rewards on offer. There is inconsistency in adoption and usage of not only video but other technologies and maybe a bit of playing things safe.

As a technology provider, we are acutely aware of the challenge new technology poses for researchers and the need to learn another tool. There is an onus on tech providers to deliver the best tools possible with outstanding UX. By minimising risks at the outset longer term uptake and adoption could not only be greater, but also quicker. We need to provide the option for users to trial technology as easily as possible and support them with best practice guidance, even for the newest methodologies. In return, researchers need to concede that many new technologies and their application are on a learning curve. I see it as an exciting process, but others may choose to wait until technology becomes ‘main stream’ and risk being left behind.

To facilitate wide scale adoption, we need to remove the barriers to usage. Confidence with and in technology can vary greatly between individuals, but great solutions should feel like a gift. Technology is a way to deliver better insight, or insight quicker or ideally both. In essence, we are just trying to understand people and their behaviour and there are a multitude of ways to achieve that. Approaches and technology can be combined to best suit any audience and situation.

Although many new technologies are easy to use, it is refreshing to see that researchers don’t need to be the ‘jack of all trades’. For tools or methodologies that may not be used regularly within a company it often doesn’t make sense to take this approach. This has been recognised with the recent launch of Green Book’s resourcing platform, Savio. Allowing expertise to be sourced when needed. It’s another sign that we are becoming more willing to step outside our comfort zone and try something new.

The recent ESOMAR Congress featured ‘shiny new tools’ which highlights some of the latest technology being utilised for research such as AI and virtual reality. It’s inspiring to see new tools being showcased, but they are only part of the puzzle. Approach and processes play an important role too. We have a start-up background, so growth hacking is a familiar term. The idea of running experiments and using data to iterate for incremental improvements is well documented and discussed. The mind set needed is something that I can’t help think could be applied more in the market research world. If for example, on an email survey we achieve a 10% response rate do we simply accept that falls within the ‘expected range’ and call it a success? In a tracker, if a certain question causes dropout, do we try different approaches to minimise the impact or are we ‘happy’ with a certain level of lost respondents?

Despite researchers spending time gaining feedback, often to drive improvements for others, we are not always the best at turning the microscope on ourselves.

With strong relationships agencies and clients can make the leap together, try something new, experiment. Safe in the knowledge that no experiment is a failure, only degrees of success, each representing another step, or in the best cases, leap forward.


1 GRIT Report 2016 Q3-Q4

Author – Carl Wong

Carl is Co-Founder and CEO of LivingLens. Carl’s background is in marketing and consumer insight roles, both client and agency side. A former AURA council member and GIMRA chair, he holds the Market Research Society Diploma and the Chartered Institute of Marketing Postgraduate Diploma.

About LivingLens

LivingLens is a Software as a Service provider that puts the consumer at the heart of decision making by leveraging the power of video. Putting the consumer just one click away, LivingLens is redefining how brands and agencies get closer to their audiences and unlocking video based data & insights. LivingLens hails from the research industry, with years of experience both agency and client side, and consequently understand (and have experienced) the pain that video presents to both research agencies and brands. LivingLens has offices in Liverpool, London and New York, contact us at for further information.

About AMSRS 407 Articles
The Australian Market & Social Research Society Limited (AMSRS) is a not-for-profit professional membership body of over 2,000 market and social research professionals who are dedicated to increasing the standard and understanding of market and social research in Australia. The Society assists members to develop their careers by heightening professional standards and ethics in the fields of market and social research.

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