There are only so many hours in the day, and many marketers have hopes of actually having a life outside of the office too. That’s why we should be enthusiastic about the many ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming market research.
Artificial intelligence does something that is difficult for humans to do — process large amounts of data in many different ways. For marketers, this can mean understanding wide groups of people — prospects or customers — across many inputs such as demographics, psychographics, lifestyle analysis, and more.
Essentially AI brings several skills to the table as today’s technology can:
- Understand unstructured data
- Reason to form hypotheses
- Learn from experience
- Interact with humans naturally
No wonder 72% of business leaders in a PwC study believe AI offers a business advantage.
AI also has an easier time processing all of the data to identify trends and provide actionable insights. Plus, it can do so faster. In Cornwall, England, for instance the council wanted to better understand its local community members’ loneliness. With Deloitte, the council hosted an online Q&A with AI collecting active data from 200 participants in real-time. The technology was then able to identify patterns among responses, in just minutes, to help the council learn what was needed and what was working to more immediately effect change.
Combining quantitative and qualitative research, AI is also able to tag, cleanse, consolidate, and analyze more data than a human could.
In the past a focus group (such as the one above) would take ages to code and analyze, and that would only be interpreting what was said in the meeting. Now AI can integrate the qualitative inputs with other quantitative tools. This might be a related survey or data overlays from other technology integrations (e.g. adding in Nielsen data about car advertising and car buyer trends in that specific geographic area to consider what a group of 10–15 possible Ford buyers had to say about the competitors in a richer context).
AI may also extract more accurate data. The idea is that without human bias it will provide more objective interpretations of survey, interview, or report data. Of course, this only works when the questions asked of the AI are unbiased. Researchers will need to continue to be vigilant in setting up the protocol for analyses and interpretation.
Further, since running algorithms and writing reports is typically the most time-consuming part of the market researchers job, AI can make their contributions more agile. Research is “essentially data” and an AI algorithm can be designed to draw conclusions about the data it analyzes quicker than humans.
Market Research Tasks for AI
Traditional advertising isn’t going away, and AI is not about to put marketers out of a job. Yet market researchers are going to see some changes. After all, AI can save time and money by automating repetitive and easy data-related tasks and doing them more quickly.
A survey of 250 market researcher decisions makers found that 90% AI would have a significant impact on their jobs in the next five years.
Tasks most likely to be handed over to AI in the next five years included:
Nevertheless, 93% of those surveyed saw AI as a good thing for market research.
Certainly, an immediate benefit is the assistance AI offers in putting together a specific sample population. While narrowing the field to a particular target audience with distinct attributes was once labor intensive and costly, it’s much easier for AI-powered tools to hone in on the selected customer profiles.
With crowd sourcing and virtual focus groups, it’s becoming easier to uncover fresh insights from previously difficult-to-reach groups. Plus, “the data captured [is] much more robust and true to life.”
Ultimately, this technology offers a fresh way to evolve at the pace of the market. Successful branding campaigns need to understand the customer and react to industry trends and innovations — and quickly. By making more rapid, data-driven analysis possible, AI can help market researchers thrive.
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