Agile market research is, by now, a thing.
As industry terms go, this one has probably already surpassed peak buzzword status, even if still not everyone shares the same definition of what agile market research is.
To be clear, agile market research is the application of agile software development methods (think iterative development, sprints, and minimum viable products) to the practice of market research, enabling teams and companies to test, iterate, and launch products, concepts, or campaigns faster and more effectively thanks to a more customer-centric approach.
Instead of a few large research projects in a year, teams who employ agile market research methodologies deliver faster and more focused projects as often as needed to support marketing and product development efforts.
When done right, this practice leads to a work process that delivers faster growth and innovation. New products get to the right customers faster, new business ideas find validation before crucial investments are made, companies can keep a real-time pulse on their existing customers and larger addressable market.
And here’s some great news for research and insights professionals, product and strategy teams, and medium to small companies with few resources and a deep hunger for market data. When we combine the agile methodology with the innovative DIY market research tools available today, we get increasingly powerful capabilities that anyone can put to work for a variety of use cases: product development, consumer behavior, concept testing, brand performance, market sizing, business plan validation, and more.
No need for outside agencies or outsized internal resources, individual team members can provide fresh market insights in a matter of hours or days.
That’s agile, that’s DIY.
Here at SurveyMonkey, paying customers from over 300,000 businesses and organizations conduct research on our platform at all times. With that amount of usage data, you can imagine we get an incomparable view of the trends that are reshaping market research today. That’s how we put together this list of five ways in which agile market research is revolutionizing how companies big and small get mission-critical business insights today. Check it out.
1. Market research automation makes us faster and more productive
Formerly tedious tasks can now disappear from a researcher’s desktop at the click of a button. Project scoping, feasibility checks, getting a price quote, or launching your project to a global survey panel? Automated platforms, like our own SurveyMonkey Audience global consumer panel, can do all that. We see hundreds of projects launched through Audience in any average week, and 1 in 8 happen on the weekends. You don’t even need to come into the office to launch a global survey!
Take, for example, Anna Konopacz, a senior consumer insights manager at online mattress startup Helix Sleep in New York City. When she fielded a concept testing survey for a new product to our online survey panel, she expected her responses back the next day. But before she even got out of the subway on the ride home, her market research project had completed.
2. Artificial intelligence makes us smarter
Not everyone knows how to do market research—especially how to do it well to get past the clutter and arrive at the right insights fast. And who wants to stay trapped in complexity when getting ready to launch a market research survey?
A.I. helps democratize some of the complex tasks involved here: 58% of our users make changes to their surveys after receiving automatic recommendations from SurveyMonkey Genius, an artificial intelligence-enabled survey assistant. Even novices can launch professional-level surveys thanks to the expertise of our survey science team combined with the power of machine learning trained on billions of survey responses.
3. New products serve increasingly specific use cases
Long-time researchers know that some methodologies are quite straightforward to replicate once you know the nuts and bolts. A concept test stays pretty much the same no matter whether you’re testing a brand logo or an idea for a self-inflating beach ball. The same applies to other market research use cases, like brand tracking, ad effectiveness, customer satisfaction, or Net Promoter Score.
These days, you can scale your research efforts through use case-specific software which removes tons of friction from the user experience. We’re proudly at the forefront of this wave of purpose-built solutions: We have launched SurveyMonkey CX, an automated NPS solution that integrates seamlessly with Salesforce; SurveyMonkey Engage, a turnkey employee engagement program; and you can expect more innovations will come down the pipeline.
4. Insights experts are not the only ones getting insights
One compelling data point we found in our usage data is that fewer than 10 percent of customers using SurveyMonkey Audience, our market research panel solution, actually work in insights or research roles. While insights teams are keeping their place within the big organizations that can afford them, more and more companies large and small see other teams (Product, Strategy, Marketing) going out in search of live trends and actionable data.
Agile DIY market research is a growing field and we’re excited to create the software tools that help accelerate this growth.
5. Agile research is becoming part of many teams’ annual strategy
Used to be, when it came time to plan and strategize for next year, some teams could only hope for some market research budget to drop their way. With the richness of automated, cost-effective market research tools currently at their disposal, agile market research projects now show up in annual plans for more teams and departments than before. And this is a great solution to a paradox we found in a customer survey: 56% of companies have continued demand for market research but face limited or shrinking budgets. Fewer resources, same (or more) need for insights.
(Insider tip: Some savvy customers get market research budgets approved early on and then store those funds in Audience Credits to purchase survey panelist responses at any given time. Great way to stay agile.)
As you can see, these are all exciting ways in which the market research field is evolving as we speak.
At SurveyMonkey, we’re excited to be part of disruptive trends like agile market research and to have some of our DIY market research tools, like SurveyMonkey Audience, leading the way.