Please wait while the search results are loading...

Market Research Evolves to Include Digital Interaction with Consumers/Ads May Be Consumer-Generated, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Powerful new software that creates research models, combined with widespread consumer access to the internet, is creating very effective new methods of consumer research that are vastly different from old-fashioned focus groups and other traditional methods.  At the same time, advertising agencies are taking advantage of today’s digital consumer to build campaigns based on consumer-generated content and consumer participation.

TV ads targeted to specific viewers have been on the horizon for years, as broadcasters look for ways to display dog food ads to canine lovers while golf equipment ads appear for golf enthusiasts.  DirecTV offers advertisers a way to use data regarding income, gender, age and recent purchases (the satellite company purchases this data from third parties such as Experian) to match advertisers’ needs.  Software in the DirecTV set top boxes selects from a group of ads to display those that match each viewer’s profile.

Market research has evolved quickly thanks to new digital methods.  To begin with, there is the internet research panel, where hundreds or even thousands of consumers may be presented with product or ad ideas online.  The consumers may pick their favorite ad headlines, for example.  Results from thousands of responses can be tabulated instantly using specialized software, and then another round of choices is presented.  Even higher levels of interactive creativity are possible.  For example, participants might be asked to choose their favorite headline, or to write a headline themselves that they think would be more effective.  Their creative efforts may be presented back to the rest of the panel for further voting and creative attempts.  A panel like this might receive incentives in the form of prizes and awards for the best new ideas.  These systems are proving to be extremely effective, and research firms that specialize in developing such online efforts are gaining ground.  San Diego, California-based Luth Research ( ) is a leader in the digital research field.

Both the internet and email are now very common methods of conducting market research.  There is even a branch of this type of research devoted to the study of smartphone users, and a related industry group, the Mobile Marketing Research Association (MMRA).  Smartphones are opening up exciting new possibilities in this type of consumer research, as these devices enable researchers to have real-time interaction with consumers in their homes, while traveling and at work.  Smartphones enable questions, answers and shared experiences via voice, text and, very effectively, video and photos.

Questionnaires circulated to carefully-targeted audiences by email and web pages are extremely useful and cost-effective.  There are now a large number of market research firms that specialize in this type of work.

Another approach is to put ad designers or product developers in lengthy, direct contact with consumers.  This could be with a rotating group of consumers who participate one at a time, or it could be an informal group of four or five people at once.  Sometimes referred to as an “immersion group,” this approach enables a marketing or product specialist to bounce ideas off consumers in an informal setting, watch how they interact with products and directly solicit product or ad improvement suggestions from participants.  Digital contact, such as video conferencing, may be employed.  Such a group could be short lived, or participants might meet once a week for several months with the client company or ad agency.  Closely observing the consumer in a setting that makes the participant feel comfortable can be very effective.  Consequently, more research is being done in consumers’ homes.  Sometimes, this research is conducted by professional anthropologists who attempt to learn how to improve messages or products in relationship to consumers’ everyday tasks, actions and needs.

The use of contests, games, giveaways and prizes is becoming widespread in the development of more effective advertising and product development.  Companies are luring consumers to do such things as suggest new product ideas (Staples received 12,000 invention proposals in one year alone after offering a grand prize of $25,000 as well as semifinalist prizes of $5,000 each), create the names for new products (Crayola asked consumers to provide names for new crayon colors), and create new ads.  For example, Converse, an athletic shoe brand, asked consumers to submit 60-second videos along with advertising spot ideas in a search for consumer-generated content.  The videos of more than 30 Converse fans were used in online and TV ads, and these creative customers received $10,000 each for their efforts.


Research and Ad Development Buzz Words:


Generation C:  Creative consumers who are active in consumer-generated content, including consumer-generated advertising.

Brand Democratization:  Allowing devoted product fans and interested consumers to dictate or even produce the content of ads and branding events.

Immersion Groups:  Enabling brand managers and product developers to interact with, talk to, and directly question and observe consumers regarding current and proposed products.  This is vastly different from traditional focus groups, which are led by a moderator and observed by marketers via one-way mirrors or cameras.

Ethnography:  An anthropology-based approach to consumer research, where observers enter the consumer’s home or watch consumer activities via web camera.

Neuromarketing:  The use of electronic brain scans (EEG readings) to gauge exactly how a consumer’s brain reacts to messages.  Specialists attempt to combine neuroscience with consumer psychology in order to improve response to ads.

Viral Marketing:  Using established social networks (such as web sites and blogs) to produce increases in brand awareness.

Crowdsourced Ads:  The use of advertising content (such as headlines, testimonials, photos or videos) created directly by consumers and published in a basically unretouched manner.



A Representative List of Organizations that Have Used our Research and Products:


I’m amazed at how much information is available and the various ways to access it. This will be a major resource for our serious job seekers.

Career Services, Penn State University

Plunkett Research Online provides a great ‘one stop shop’ for us to quickly come up to speed on major industries. It provides us with an overall analysis of the market, key statistics, and overviews of the major players in the industry in an online service that is fast, easy to navigate, and reliable.

Wendy Stotts, Manager, Carlson Companies

I really appreciate the depth you were able to get to so quickly (for our project). The team has looked through the material and are very happy with the data you pulled together.

Hilton Worldwide, Marketing Manager

We are especially trying to push Plunkett since all of our students have to do so much industry research and your interface is so easy to use.

Library Services, St. John’s College

We are especially trying to push Plunkett’s since all of our students have to do so much industry research and your interface is so easy to use.

Gary White, Business Materials Selector, Penn State University

Your tool is very comprehensive and immensely useful. The vertical marketing tool is very helpful, for it assists us in that venue, as well as targeting customers’ competition for new sales…The comprehensive material is absolutely fabulous. I am very impressed, I have to say!

Tammy Dalton, National Account Manager, MCI

The more I get into the database, the happier I am that we’ll have it–REALLY happy!!! Between the quality and affordability of your product, its appeal to and value for our users, and the inestimably ethical and loyalty-guaranteeing conduct of your business, I will always have more than sufficient praises to sing for Plunkett Research.

Michael Oppenheim, Collections & Reference Services, UCLA

Plunkett Research Online is an excellent resource…the database contains a wealth of useful data on sectors and companies, which is easy to search and well presented. Help and advice on how to conduct, export and save searches is available at all stages.

Penny Crossland, Editor, VIP Magazine
Real Time Web Analytics