Free Alternatives To Widely Adopted MR Tech
A quick glimpse at the latest GRIT Report confirms the market research industry’s love for the most recent market research technology:
While it is great that our industry embraces the newest technologies to help create more actionable and relevant insights for our clients, the issue lies in adopting market research specific technologies that can sometimes price you out of winning a bid. Or if won, could leave little profits to run your market research business.
The issue isn’t the adoption of these new technologies but rather the tendency to rely on technology suppliers that are narrowly focused on the market research industry. This is not to say that technology providers focused on the market research industry do not offer great solutions, it’s just that they are not the only game in town.
A prime example of this is online communities, one of the most widely adopted “emerging methods” outlined in the recent GRIT report. I recently hosted a webinar specifically on this topic describing how online community providers that focused specifically on the market research space offer great solutions but come with a hefty price tag.
There is a myriad of online community platforms available that were not specifically created with market research in mind but can satisfy almost all of the needs of an online community with some sweat-equity on the programming backend. By utilizing a non-market research online community platform, companies can offer online communities at a fraction of the cost and potentially win business that they would have otherwise been priced out of. Freemium alternatives such as Vanilla and Grou.ps are great community sites that can serve as market research online community (MROCS) platforms with a little programming.
Another non-market research technology resource is webcam-based interviews. This is an easier leap than online communities as webcam/phonecam technology is ubiquitous. FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Live, and Periscope, all provide the opportunity to conduct webcam-based interviews with zero technology costs. While doing webcam-based interviews for market research makes recording and reporting a snap; one has to weigh the ROI of paying for technology that is free everywhere else. Recording via these technologies is fairly straightforward and as a market researcher, you have the reporting down pat.
In the same vein as webcam-based interviews, mobile messaging technology has evolved way past just text based conversations. iMessage, WhatsApp, and Kik to name a few, all allow you to send images, video, and audio within the messaging platform. Market researchers can harness these free technologies to conduct mobile ethnographies without having to rely on market research techniques that require respondents to download unwanted applications. These free alternatives to market research technologies are sometimes better from a respondent point of view as it allows the respondent to capture their everyday lives within a familiar platform.
This takes some flexibility on the researcher’s side as you may have to familiarize yourself with multiple platforms, but the user interfaces are fairly similar, and you can’t beat the cost of free.
Market research technology has played a critical role in helping our industry look beyond traditional methodologies. However, as consumer technology continues to blur the lines between enterprise and consumers, market researchers should look beyond our own tech to stay competitive. While not every market research technology can be replaced by existing consumer technologies, researching alternatives should be a standard practice as consumer technology continues to evolve.