A Look at 2021 Insights Industry Trends

insights industry trends
Breaking down GRIT Report findings to uncover what trends are here to stay

As we pass the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, its impact is visible in every aspect of our lives, from the way we shop to the way we go to school. Similarly, buyers and suppliers of market research have pivoted to address rapidly shifting industry trends. Taking a look at insights industry trends, the recent GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report captures many of the changes impacting the insights and analytics industry because of the pandemic.

The GRIT Report captured 1,071 interviews with research buyers and suppliers about the drivers of supplier selection, emerging methods, business outlook – and, new this year, implications of COVID for the year ahead. Findings illustrate the negative impact of COVID on the industry, changes to qualitative research, and the industry’s commitment to technology spending. It was found that particularly in the categories of ability to meet their organization’s goals, volume of client project work/overall research volume, staff size, and investment in technology, both buyers and suppliers of market research were faced with many challenges. Suppliers reported a greater negative impact than buyers, possibly due to budget decreases and an increased effort among buyers to produce insights in-house.

Online IDIs

One of the greatest shifts in market research highlighted in the GRIT Report was how the industry conducted qualitative research. In particular, online IDIs (in-depth or individual depth interviews) with webcams and online focus groups with webcams increased in usage by 12% and 20%, respectively. Meanwhile in-person IDIs and in-person focus groups decreased in usage by 16% and 18%, respectively. This shift from in-person to online research methods was driven by the pandemic. Yet the question remains how buyers and suppliers will adapt in 2021 as in-person options become more viable again.

Technology Spending

Another trend continuing to advance is a commitment to technology spending. GRIT reported that while some buyers and suppliers have decreased their technology spending, more than twice as many have increased it. In light of the considerable negative effect that COVID has had on the insights industry, the commitment to increasing technology spending demonstrates the growing importance of research-specific software and automation tools. Buyers and suppliers are aligned with tech spending. Analytics, data collection techniques, DIY solutions, visualization and dashboards, and data integration top the priorities list for both groups.

What’s Here to Stay

Even though some trends included in the GRIT Report were driven by the pandemic, such as the overall challenges faced by the industry and the shift toward online qualitative research methods, the question remains if these short-term reactions will evolve into long-term changes for the insights industry. Regardless, firms that have been able to survive the negative effects of COVID likely will come out of this turbulent time with a greater appreciation for online qualitative research methods than they had prior to the pandemic. It also seems that COVID has accelerated technology’s role within the insights industry and that this trend will continue in the coming years.

While last year’s progression was defined by how buyers and suppliers reacted to COVID, 2021 insights industry trends will be defined by how buyers and suppliers adapt as society begins to return to normal, which should bring about some interesting findings.

Related reading: Google Predicts 4 Pandemic Changes Are Permanent

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