Commissioned projects, planning, scale, analysis, and reporting were all part of market research in the past. You could see a project coming up in the next few weeks; there would be a design phase, a recruitment phase, and then you'd conduct the actual research (getting lost somewhere on the outskirts of Singapore trying to find a focus group facility or programming a 100-question survey that you'd later regret), drill through a massive pile of data, and then create a PowerPoint presentation to present. You'd have to hope you'd nailed the approach up front, because turning it around was like manoeuvring a super tanker (and we've all seen how difficult that can be).
Your route, on the other hand, would be well-planned and your destination would be clear, with an inventory of what you'd deliver and how you'd deliver it - which might be overlooked at the ground level view that User Experience research takes - and a well-balanced cargo of representative voices from a variety of respondents across segments.
User Experience Research: The SUP
In comparison, User Experience research is more analogous to stand-up paddle boarding: it's interesting, inexpensive, quick, flexible, and portable, but it's definitely a little frightening. Furthermore, unlike traditional market research focuses on feedback from a large number of people, User Experience research focuses on individuals and how they engage with products and services in order to personalise and improve the user's experience.
User Experience research is more likely to be quick turnaround, smaller in scope in terms of research objectives, and iterative, in that the knowledge acquired in one phase of research might provide a shift in strategy that can be followed up in subsequent encounters. User experience research uses ethnography and real-time behaviour analytics to get close to users at their level. What User Experience research does not provide in the same way is a strategic ‘view from the bridge' of where you're heading and what lies ahead.
Turning the Tide
However, during the last few years, the tides have begun to turn, and the largest of the research projects are withering away in a dry dock someplace, making way for something a little lighter and more agile. I discussed how UX design, particularly design patterns, wireframes, and personas, may help market research. However, by incorporating ux practises into research methods, UX research techniques can have an impact on market research.
With a concentration on smaller research questions and a "move fast and break things" strategy, research projects are becoming shorter and faster to complete. Iterative research methods are becoming increasingly popular, in which data from previous studies are used to produce new research topics that are more relevant.
Through more qualitative, ethnography-inspired approaches, research becomes more ‘up close and personal,' allowing stakeholders to see things from the customer's perspective.
Refitting the Ship
However, User Experience research approaches aren't the only ones that can influence how we conduct market research. The unprompted dialogue that we get from the community panels is one of the advantages of them. Customers contribute insights into how it feels to be onboard: that is, the user experience of market research itself, in addition to offering input on the product/service/brand that the platform is themed around. As a result, we can think about the experience of participating in terms of:
· How are individuals connecting with the research (and, in an ideal world, how would they choose to interact)?
· Can we receive feedback on products and services more "in the moment" (without getting in the way)?
· Can we make it so that participants don't have to give up an hour of their time to do a big survey on a laptop or desktop when a shorter mobile poll would be far more appealing and applicable and get instant feedback?