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Animated Insights: The Explosion of Research Tech

The roots of the insight industry can be traced back over 100 years, over which time a significant amount of change has occurred. From new statistical modelling techniques, to entirely new data gathering methods – it’s fair to say that the sector has never stood still. However, the most recent decade has been dominated by an explosion of technology.

Today, there is more choice than ever for brands that want to speak to and understand their customers. The first of our Animated Insights video explores how we got here, what led to the sector’s technological boom, and what the future may hold.

The History of Market Research

It was over 100 years ago that the first survey which used computer-aided tools was conducted in the US. Whether this is the orgin of technology in market research is still debated, but it certainly serves as one of the earliest examples. It took another 30 years, until the 1920s for the next big leap forward to be taken.

In this decade, Daniel Starch developed interviews and questionnaires to measure advertising effectiveness. This is widely believed to be the inciting event that led to the development of quantitative surveying methods. What followed in the 1930s and 40s was significant development of the qualitative fields, as processes such as focus groups and depth interviews started to gain traction.



In the 1960s, as telephones begin to see more widespread adoption, technology returns to the picture. These devices were seen as a huge opportunity to reach greater volumes of consumers than ever before. By the 1990s, telephone interviewing was being supplemented by early developments in web analytics. While this would eventually become an entire field of its own, at the time it was considered revolutionary.

The pace of change picks up significantly in the last two decades we explore. Over the first 100 years - technological innovation had moved from computer aided surveys to telephone and burgeoning web technologies. However over the next 20, a myriad of new tools would enter the marketplace. Video research, mobile surveys, text analytics, social media research, big data, online communities, virtual environments and neuroscience are only a handful of the options available today.

And what does the future hold? Though that may be hard to predict, there are promising developments in the field of research that look set to further propel the industry forward. Automation, greater integration with business software and the further democratisation of data are likely three trends that will come to fruition soon. While blockchain, IoT devices and increasinly sophisticated analysis software will have an impact in the longer term.

The Animated Insight Series

Our Animated Insight videos take a look under the hood of some of the less explored areas of the research industry. From the history and development of the sector, to recent trends shaping consumer behaviours - we want to present these topics in a fun, engaging and dynamic way. Because, after all, why shouldn't market research be fun?