The future of market research is uncertain due to ongoing changes within marketing and the surrounding business environment. Research ought to continue to play an important role, but it might be quite different in the evolving marketing ecosystem with the increasingly complex mix of marketers, media, service providers, agencies, data, tools and technologies. Rather than being a separate activity, standing outside of the daily operation of the business, research may become more embedded within the business itself.
The design of market research—the blueprint for data collection, measurement and analysis—provides a useful lens to frame the possibilities for the discipline. Three of the most important types of designs are the survey, observation and experiment.
The popular business media might give the impression that Big Data (gathered through observation rather than surveys or experiments) will become bigger and drown out other approaches. There are reasons to question the desirability and inevitability of this outcome. Trends in current practices with each of these designs give some indication of their prospects in the future of market research.