As media formats change to keep up with technology and consumer behavior, marketers need the right intelligence to position their ad campaigns. Marketers are still playing catch-up with respect to maximizing the outcomes of their digital efforts. To stay current with trends, especially the digital shift, more marketers will be shifting their research efforts to be sure they understand the audiences they are pitching to and in many cases, their research will be increasingly digital.

Writing for Ipsos, John Hallward has identified several key trends that will affect how marketers carry out their research efforts as they prepare for campaigns. Some of his most important points include:

  • Blended Touchpoints: Consumers are spending more time than ever in front of 3 screens: TV, computer and mobile phone. And their attention is often divided among these screens. To reach these consumers, marketers need to move away from the silo concept and consider how these media formats work together. In some cases, the right strategy may be for marketers to plan out creative content and media spending simultaneously.
  • Diminished Brand Importance: The growing consumer interest in private label products has seriously diminished the power of national brands. Manufacturers may find that they need to increase not only advertising, but direct selling to the consumer in order to increase the emotional association.  And when considering advertising focus, market research may reveal that media consumption is not the same as media influence. In this case, media planning should not be directly correlated to media consumption when an ad spend is being mapped out.
  • Cost of Research: The expense to interview consumers continues to rise especially when a marketer seeks a representative sample. To obtain valuable data, marketers may turn to smaller samples. They may also collect more passive data or narrow their focus to niches such as focus groups or on-line communities.

Market research is done within the context of understanding the “irrationality of consumers.” Hallward notes that key market researchers may turn to Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational” for a better understanding of behavioral economics. The purchase process for any consumer is a complex one. And today’s marketplace offers a plethora of similar products available through a multitude of channels. The key is convincing the consumer to buy a specific product through a specific channel. For many marketers, the best approach to ad planning and product development is found through employing the best available market research.

[Source: Hallward, John. Advertising Research: 2011 Trends to Watch. Ipsos-NA.com 2011. Web. 14 Mar. 2011]