Big Data Vs. Market Research

Big data is a phrase that has been flying around for a little while now. It has become a topical conversation point within the world of custom software development and technology.

Big data and data collection has become second nature on many e-commerce platforms and websites. It is an easy way to collect a mass amount of information about consumers, in a relatively short space of time. Big data allows individuals’ preferences and ideals to be gathered in one foul swoop, without diving very deep beneath the surface. However, it seems that big data has started to venture into the territory of traditional market research. In time, it is thought that big data could eradicate old school market research altogether. Why would you need to carry out extensive surveys and questionnaires, when data can be collected online with far much more ease?

Despite this shift, there are key differences between the way big data and market research methods should be used. Although big data is affecting the way market research is conducted and put into practice, both are very valuable tools in their own right and should be used accordingly.

Old Vs New
The amount of data available to be collected from consumers is mind boggling. As technology and bespoke software development becomes more innovative and complex, so will the data that is accumulated.

Typically, big data is amassed regarding our online behaviours. Advanced software and technology systems are then used to decide what these interactions correlate to. In turn, this affects our preferences and personalizes our online experiences. This is why an advert might appear on the side of a website or social media platform, of a product you have just been looking at online. Or perhaps you have just been discussing what to have for dinner and your phone casually displays an ad for a food delivery app. This may seem like a very daunting prospect, but in the long run, data collection will greatly enhance our user experience and journey when interacting with digital platforms.

More traditional market research studies revolve around cumulating specific amounts of knowledge, using multiple methods or large sample sizes. A great depth of information can be collected in this way and it has worked perfectly well for many years. However, there is now a new kid on the block and the information collected doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of that that big data can muster. This is why many brands and companies now choose big data methods to learn nitty, gritty details about their consumers, opposed to conventional market research techniques.

Human-Centred Approach
Although a wealth of information can be gathered through big data, specialist custom software techniques are often required to sift through it and unravel the information provided. This can often lead to specific details being missed and subsequently losing the human element of data collection. This is something that well established market research methods are better suited to.

It can often be forgotten that humans are the end users and target audience in many circumstances; this is something big data is far from understanding.

Despite being more human-centred, market research struggles to represent the entirety of a specific market. This is why big data is predominately affecting the use of market research, as it is better at displaying and understanding market niches more clearly. Good response rates and sample sizes are required from market research studies, to accumulate enough usable information and to provide a voice of the customer.

Which Should be Used for What?
Ultimately, big data is used in aim to predict consumer behaviours and trends, so digital services can be tailored to create a more effective, personalized experience whilst online. Yes, big data is affecting the application of market research, but sometimes an old dog can learn new tricks.

Deciding whether to apply big data or market research to a situation will depend on the desired end results. What do you wish to learn from consumer behaviour?

Big data can provide much deeper insights into business trends. More specifically, tracking purchasing and browsing behaviours in real time, allowing mass collection of data in a small timeframe. This will lead to more effective decisions to be made, regarding digital platform features and predicting future behaviours. Think of it as a virtual crystal ball.

On the other hand, traditional market research is a much more personable method of collecting information, with the consumer often at the heart of studies. It will delve into why an individual will make a specific decision, according to their emotional preference. In theory, market research will predict future trends made on opinions and attitudes.

In a simple roundup:
Big Data = Behaviour
Market Research = Intention

To Wrap Up
So, there we have it. Big data will more than likely replace traditional market research methods, but the human-focused element needs to be enhanced before this happens.

Big data is already well established and engrained within social media and analytics collected via the digital platforms we use. Personal data has become readily accessible in today’s digital society, meaning the way we consume product information and media can be easily recorded virtually, without us even noticing.

Big data will change the core of physical market research in the long term, as the world continues to transform into an increasingly digital environment.